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Category Archives: Musings

Talking About Endings

So, this is me pondering the need to keep on running a review-blog.

Since September 2010 I’ve witnessed a steady decline in visitors to the blog, for whatever reasons that may be. From around May 2009 until August 2010 the log was averaging 7000 hits a month, and since September the decline has been so drastic that in the past three months the blog is averaging around 2000 hits.

Now, I’m not usually a guy that follows trends and keeps an eye on numbers, but lately it’s been so in-my-face that I can’t exactly ignore it. There are probably many reasons, which I’ll spend some time going into here, but the fact of the matter is that this blog’s day is done and I’m seriously considering ending this particular ear in my life.

Now to the reasons: Content.

I’m a SFF lover and reader from South Africa who is also a bookseller who is also a struggling (emphasis on the struggling) writer. The main point, though, is that I’m in South Africa. Lemme explain – our industry supports an average of 60000 readers. That’s it. Our publishers must source books from the Uk, primarily, and then the US (if UK publishers don’t have rights); because of where we source books from we have to deal with a general lag of around 3 months. Sometimes we get lucky and are able to luck in with world-wide releases (Harry Potter, Dan Brown) and sometimes we wait 2 months or even only 1 month, but books aren’t available in SA when they’re available in the UK. FACT. That means that we’re behind, and since we’ve got so many readers in SA, we don’t get to see a fraction of what UK and US markets get to see and enjoy and sell.

Because we source from the UK, books are incredibly expensive – we have (as close as can be counted) just over 50 million people in the country, the vast majority of which don’t pay taxes because they are unemployed or can only get part-time work; this means that tax is king. Which makes books more expensive, year after year. Which means less people read, year after year. Which means less books come to SA, year after year.

What bearing does this have on the blog’s content? Well, I started this blog to give South African SFF readers somewhere to go to get their information, and I tried to provide that information. Let me put it this way – if I’ve had 2000 South Africans visiting this blog since I began it in 2008, that’s plenty. In fact, I’m probably being very generous with that number. So, tailoring the blog’s content to South African readers (those who, by absolute chance, stumble upon the blog) means blogging old, outdated information, which means losing readers from the UK and US and everywhere else because the information is old and outdated. BUT if I keep the blog’s content fresh and constantly updated I lose South African readers – because I’m ahead of the industry here. Not in any substantial, incredible way, not even in a measurable way, probably, but when you have to tell the publishers here that Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish The Wheel of Time, you’re ahead. And if I’m ahead of the publishers, what does that say about the public? The public that can afford an internet connection, that is. πŸ˜›

So, I sit with problems – tailor the content to a South African readership (which hardly exist) and I lose; tailor the content to an international readership (which exists in an AWESOME way), and I lose the few South African readers I do have. But that’s not all:

If I completely forgot about South African readers and concentrated on international readers, how do I keep up the content? If someone posts info about George RR Martin’s marriage before I do, should I still post the news? If someone posts the latest cover art for a eagerly-awaited novel, should I go ahead and post it, too? Let’s say that I don’t; let’s say that I post my thoughts on Smallville, for instance, and how I think the show will end on a high-note because Tom Welling will finally be putting on the suit. I’ll get a minimum amount of readers, that’s what will happen. Because, in my honest opinion, I’m going against what SFF blogging has become – a “I’ll post it as soon as it hits my RSS Reader!’ pass-time. Why do people still visit Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, even though there’s been pretty vocal gripes against him and how he does things? Because HE GET’S THE SCOOPS . Plain and simple. Argue all you want, but it’s a fact. So why is anyone else blogging?

Because they offer their opinions, that’s why. And most opinions in SFF are well-informed; they are the opinions of fans, people who have been reading SFF for decades, at least, and each and everyone knows what they’re talking about even if they say different things. Here’s the thing – and probably the reason I’ve seen a decline in readers / visits: I’m too behind (news-wise and connection-wise) to keep up. Everything you see on the blog you’ve seen somewhere else first. That’s a fact. So, what if I give you news from the South African SFF scene? Hehehehe I made a joke. It doesn’t exist. The scene is trying to exist, though, trying it’s damndest – there are plenty of SFF-authors that are South African, I won’t argue that at all. BUT THEY DON”T GET SOUTH AFRICAN PUBLISHER-SUPPORT. And when I do post news about South African SFF authors almost no-one readers the posts: international readers haven’t heard of these authors and local readers can’t read their work because South African publishers don’t carry / distribute their work. 😦

So do I carry on blogging and 1) hope that SA SFF readers / fans will start using the internet to find out about SFF (because, and let’s be honest, booksellers in SA don’t have a clue), or 2) try and get a blog-post out before anyone else? My point of view doesn’t even matter, if we’re all being totally honest – I’m a fan / reader that is too far away from the scene to have a point of view that actually has merit.

So, the logical conclusion? Become a reader again. Stop blogging. Or agonize over what to blog so that I can try and tell myself I’m actually contributing something. Either way, I’ve got some deep thinking to do about the future of the blog.

And I’m also not the only SFF blogger in South Africa – Lauren runs an excellent blog. πŸ™‚

Be EPIC!

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23 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Musings

 

Looking back on an AWESOME Two Years!

Two years ago on this date I launched this blog with my review of Peter V Brett’s The Painted Man. πŸ™‚ Can you bloody believe it?! Two years this blog’s been going… Man, sometimes I really think I’ve found a time machine in my head or something, because time has just sped by! Though, and I mean this, that time hasn’t been a waste at all;

Rather, I’ve been able to read some incredible books that I would never have read (books are damn expensive in South Africa), I’ve come into contact with plenty of wonderful people, including bloggers, people in publishing, people in marketing, authors and fellow fans. The blogosphere is an incredible place – one of the few places, in fact, where people remember their manners and where everyone really is part of one massive, far-reaching community (no joke there – my blog has been translated into Japanese, or Korean, of Mandarin, or something pictographically similar) and doesn’t just say so (like on a Facebook group).

The thing about blogging, and especially about running a book-review blog, is that we, all of us, do this -not because we think our opinions matter, or because we feel we owe it to the world, or some-such bullshit- because we love reading and we love books, and because we are basically trying to pin down and verbalize what exactly we love about the book we’ve read. Even though this blog has had 157062 visits since it launched (and so been visited by possibly thousands of people, I hope) it’s still a very personal experience; sure, it’s awesome when an author links to a review you’ve posted, and it’s awesome to get contacted by authors and publishers asking you to read a book, and even getting comments on posts is kickass, but I would still be doing this even though no-one visited the blog – my manager has told me that I’ve got more passion for books than anyone else at work, and that passion will keep me telling people about the books I’ve read and enjoyed even if the Internet implodes and disappears. Books have kept me sane (well, most of my friends wouldn’t agree with that, I s’pose) and have been the one constant companion that has joined me as I travelled the many paths I’ve travelled in my life, bathed in sunshine or lost in the dark. Practically every other reviewer out there will agree with me, I’m sure, and that’s one of the things that makes this labour of love so damn rewarding – knowing that, without a doubt, that you are sharing in something extremely damn cool and satisfying, and that it’ll never end. As long as we human beings utter the question, ‘Why?’, there will be stories that will try and get to the answer.

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent, haven’t I? πŸ™‚

Suffice it to say that I’m honoured to be part of such a wonderful community! If I’ve managed to make people think about the next book they want to pick up and get lost in, then that’s awesome; if I haven’t, then it’s not a problem. Either way, I’ve been exposed to books I wouldn’t have been able to afford and to authors I hadn’t yet discovered – huge WIN! πŸ™‚

Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve done on the blog in these two years:

Books Reviewed:

The Painted man by Peter V Brett
Acacia by David Anthony Durham
Black Ships by Jo Graham
Star Wars: Legacy of the Force – Invinsible by Troy Denning
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights – Jedi Twilight by Michael Reaves
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Graphic Novel by Haden Blackman
Star Wars: Death Star by Steve Perry and Michael Reaves
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights – Street of Shadows by Michael Reaves
The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney
Debatable Space by Philip Palmer
Incandescence by Greg Egan
Twelve by Jasper Kent (A quote from this review was printed in the inside cover of the paperback edition of Twelve πŸ™‚ )
The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J Sullivan
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
Star Wars: Republic Commando – Order 66 by Karen Traviss
Star Wars: Darth Bane – Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn
Watchmen Graphic Novel by Alan Moore
Star Wars: Coruscant Nights – Patterns of Force by Michael Reaves
The Modern World by Steph Swainston
Chronicles of the Raven – Dawnthief by James Barclay
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Empress by Karen Miller
40 Years by Bernd Struben
Hand of Isis by Jo Graham
Starfinder by John Marco
Terminator: Salvation by Alan Dean Foster
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Nights of Villjamur by Mark C Newton
Avempartha by Michael J Sullivan
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
Twisted Metal by Tony Ballentyne
Warhammer 40K Soul Drinkers – Chapter War by Ben Counter
Warhammer Time of Legends Heldenhammer by Graham McNeill
Warhammer 40K Assault on Black Reach by Nick Kyme
A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans
Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire
The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Outcast by Aaron Allston
Uprising by Christopher Newman
The Wheel of Time Book 12 The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Angry Ghosts by F Allen Farnham
Storm Approaching by Brian Libby
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Omen by Christie Golden
The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
Star Wars: Crosscurrent by Paul S Kemp
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Abyss by Troy Denning
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
Angel of Death by J Robert King
City of Ruin by Mark C Newton
Spellwright by Blake Charlton
Absorption by John Meaney
Suicidals Anonymous by J Robert King
The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett
The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer
Kell’s Legend by Andy Remic
Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Wymeweald – Returner’s Wealth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Original Sin by Allison Brennan
Nyphron Rising by Michael J Sullivan

Not as many as I would have liked to read, and plenty that I need to really get to (there’s plenty of Book Two’s in series that I have to get to!), but I’m pretty pleased anyway. πŸ™‚

Interviews:
Peter V Brett
Ben Bova
David Anthony Durham
Jo Graham, here and here
Karen Miller
Peter F Hamilton
Christopher Paolini
Karen Traviss
Drew Karpyshyn
Russell Kirkpatrick
Terry Brooks
Jasper Kent
Kate Elliott
Philip Palmer
Brandon Sanderson
Shane Briant
Randur Estevu
Rumex Jeryd
Brynd Lathraea Adaol
Brian Libby
Paul S Kemp and John Jackson Miller

And I’ll definitely bring you more! πŸ™‚

I’ve also hosted some booktrailers:

Hater by David Moody
Hunted by PC and Kristin Cast
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain
Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Burned by PC and Kristin Cast
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Ancestor by Scott Siegler
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

And I’ve been allowed to read and record excerpts from two books:

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
The Emerald Storm by Michael J Sullivan

And I’ve also been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to post excerpts of novels:

Hater by David Moody – Intro and Chapter One, Chapter Two
Storm Approaching by Brian Libby here and here
Shadowrise by Tad Williams
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

There’s more on the blog (but I don’t want to take up ALL your time) so click ‘Categories’ for the rest. πŸ™‚

None of this, absolutely NONE of it, would have been possible without the awesome help from an absolute shitload of people – staff from many, many publishers, bloggers from both sides of the Atlantic, fellow fans and probably even booksellers; there are just too many people to name – you all know who you are and how much I appreciate your help πŸ™‚ Every single one of you has helped me to keep this blog going and to keep me interested in keeping this blog going. πŸ™‚ But the major THANK YOU has to be to the authors of the books that I’ve read, even before I started this blog – without all of you I would probably be working as a mechanic or something similar; you’ve enriched my life beyond measure. πŸ™‚

So, here’s to the next two years – hell, let’s make that twenty-two, shall we? πŸ™‚

Thanks, all of you! You all KICK ASS!

Be EPIC!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Musings

 

Gay and Lesbian Characters in SFF

Now that I’ve got your attention! πŸ™‚

I only realized a couple of days ago that I wanted to take a stab at talking about this topic – you see, I read two books in which main POV characters were homosexuals, and not only did their gender preference not overshadow the storyline, but they were amazing characters, characters that readers, no matter their own gender preference, could identify with and like.

My question is: Have I missed something? Or is this courage from writers a new thing? I’m asking because the only other place I’ve encountered a homosexual character (before the novels) is (and I apologize for the impending spoiler) in the pages of Detective Comics – the new Batwoman (not Stephanie, Tim Drake’s ex-flame) is a lesbian, and has an absolutely tasteful, romantic dance with Maggie Sawyer (late of the Metropolis SCU division), in sight of her ex-girlfriend. I have to say, though, that I read this scene after the first book I read with a gay main character.

The first time I encountered a gay main character (last year) there was absolutely no sense of shock, no recoiling in disgust, no okay-now-that-was-a-bit-too-freaky-for-me, nothing like that. It was respectful, tasteful, lovely even. I didn’t look differently at the character, nor the book. And an instant after reading the passage, I felt this huge respect for the author, the editor, the agent, and the publisher. I mean, how could I not? We still live in a day and age where everything not-heterosexual is frowned upon by society at large, forcing people into niches that segregate them from society. Sure, the Gay Rights movement has come a very long way, but there will still be people who, when they see the title of this post, decide not to even entertain the notion of reading it.

It’s the same reason why I haven’t mentioned the titles of the novels that led to this post – the very reading of those novels may change some minds, after all. Discovering that you actually admire a gay or lesbian main character in the book you’re reading? Hell, talk about a marriage of genres! πŸ™‚

I can only hope that this trend continues, and that more gay and lesbian characters take center-stage. SFF is, when it comes down to it, an incredible journey of exploration, isn’t it? So let’s explore. πŸ™‚

Be EPIC!

Update 1 :

Thanks to @etherreallad (yes, from Twitter), here’s a good look at SFF featuring gay and lesbian characters. Let’s keep the ball rolling!

Update 2 : Daya reminded me about an author who had a bisexual main character (still can’t believe I forgot!): the author is Jo Graham, and the book? Hand of Isis. The link will take you to my review. πŸ™‚ Thanks Daya!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2010 in Musings

 

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SFF: Back on the Blog

As most of you already know, I launched a new blog in October last year and shifted the focus of this blog to my writing endeavours. In retrospect, it seems like a really dumb decision on my part, if only because the new blog (Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF!) didn’t draw any attention and very few hits.

Let me put it this way – in a three month period on the new blog, we got around 2700 visits, which I thought was okay, since it was a new blog. This blog, though, shocked me:

In the same three month period, we got around 35000 visits. In fact, as of this morning, this blog had racked up a total of 100350 visits since I started it! Trust me, I now bemoan the fact that I ever shifted the focus of the blog – imagine how many people visited the blog and promptly left because it wasn’t what they were looking for? πŸ˜›

I do, I’ll admit, have two other reasons -no less important but wayyy cooler;

A quote from my review of Jasper Kent‘s excellent historical fantasy / horror debut, Twelve, has been used for the mass market paperback edition that went on sale yesterday (head’s still spinning, even though Jasper gave me the news early in December),

AND

My name appears in the acknowledgements of a highly-anticipated novel which will be hitting the shelves in March (can’t tell you which one yet, but it’s a biggie!). πŸ™‚

So moving SFF back to this blog seems to be a pretty good idea, and I’m glad that I woke up in time. πŸ™‚ But I do give you all permisson to laugh yourselves silly at my stupidity. πŸ˜‰

And then I s’pose the question that needs answering is: what will happen to Realms & Galaxies?

David Jooste will be taking it over, doing his thing there and changing it as he sees fit, while I’ll be doing my thing here, including updates on my writing. As reviews, interviews and news are posted on both blogs, we’ll link to each other to make sure that you’re all kept in the loop. πŸ™‚

So 2010 will will have two South African SFF blogs – an awesome way to start off the year, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

Be EPIC!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2010 in Announcements, Musings

 

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SFF in South Africa

This post was originally posted over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 29th of December 2009.

Since I’m the only SFF reviewer from South Africa and in South Africa, I thought that it was way past time to post this ‘article’ / ‘essay’ (or whatever it turns out to be) and get all of you outside SA an inside-seat to the state of SFF here. πŸ™‚

So, where to start? I guess the best place would be my introduction to SFF.

Comics. Argue if you want, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be the same for many of you out there. My parents got me started with Wendy, Casper, Spooky, and later, Archie. This is what started me reading, and you can be damn sure I’m always grateful for that. πŸ™‚ Pretty soon I graduated to the comics and characters that we all know – Superman, Batman, etc and the first comic I remember reading from DC was an issue of Flash, in the post-Invasion days, where Wally West was homeless and buggered. (This is probably why Wally West, and The Flash, is my favourite DC character – yes, way above Batman, even).

You see, comics opened up such a massive world for my imagination to play in that I was completely hooked, and by the time I was in my first year of High School, I had a collection in excess of 1000 different comics. By then I had already started reading actual books (we’re not that backward here!), but I still see comics as my first taste of SFF, and I collect what I can today, too. πŸ™‚

I also read plenty of books, too, but these were along the lines of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and Franklin W. Dixon’s The Hardy Boys stories. The first adult book I read was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and I was nine years old (blame my dad for leaving his books lying around!). After King, I never touched another book meant for my age-group. πŸ™‚

The first Fantasy book I ever read was David Eddings’ Pawn of Prophecy, and that led to me reading every Fantasy book in our school library in less than a year (granted, that’s not such a big claim, since there weren’t that many books to begin with, but still, the hunger started there). The first SF book I ever read? Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And what an introduction those books were! Eddings (may his name always burn brightly) showed me magic, evil, battles; Clarke showed me the gorgeous beauty of space and the true meaning of the word ‘extra terrestrial’ (sorry, Spielberg), and from then on, I devoured everything I could get my hands on. Sometimes I would focus on SF for an entire year, and then Fantasy – I marveled at Clarke and Lee’s Rama Cycle, was completely blown away by The Reality Dysfunction, and holy hell, when I discovered Robert Jordan… Let’s just say that Fantasy really became fantastic!

But the question that I’m going to try and answer here is this: is the rest of South Africa the same?

As the first part of my answer, here’s a shocker for you – a fact that will go a long way to explaining just why I’m the only reviewer in South Africa:

A book needs to sell between 2000 and 5000 copies to be a national BESTSELLER. I can see you doing a double-take, but that’s the average. To put it even more in perspective, there are about 60000 to 70000 active readers in South Africa, and those numbers are split between every kind of book you can imagine.

What sells well here? Cookery books, Misery Memoirs, biographies, business books, and fiction along the lines of Wilbur Smith, Danielle Steel, etc.

Now, when I started working as a bookseller in 2001, I immediately felt at home in the SF section; ‘S’ for Science Fiction, and ‘F’ for Fantasy. Don’t worry, I shook my head, too. Talk about not caring about the distinctions, right?

Anyway, one of the first things I noticed was that readers of SFF here were and are starved for material to read, and this problem has two parts;

The first, and, I suppose, most important, part of the problem, is how long we have to wait for books. You see, because we’re such a small market here, our publishers / distributors have to acquire rights to get the books into the market. What this means for us is that we have to wait an average of 3 months from the date of publication for the books to hit our shelves. With the huge international publications such as the Harry Potter novels and The Lost Symbol that period is null and void, but with everything else the 3-month rule applies. (Sometimes we strike it lucky – case in point, Peter V Brett’s The Painted Man; the publisher’s here sent me a copy in late July 2008, and my review of it was the review that got me started in the blogosphere.)

The second aspect of the problem is that there isn’t much book knowledge among book sellers here. I’m not saying that the majority of us are complete dunces, but book sellers here think they know a lot and don’t actually know as much as they think they know. The knowledge we do have must, necessarily, be focused on the books that make the most money in our market, and none of those books include anything from SFF (once again, JK Rowling would be the exception to the rule). I’m an aberration, of course. πŸ˜€

A smaller, though no less important, part of the problem is that every bookseller or manager has their own opinion on what will sell and where it should be sectioned. A good example of this would be Cormack McCarthy’s The Road; I took it out of Fiction (mainstream, non-genre if you like) and put it in Science Fiction & Fantasy (we’re lucky enough to have the section named as such in the our shop). What happened? 3 copies sold in a week, whereas in Fiction, 3 copies didn’t sell in a month. Now it’s a mainstay of my section (yes, I’m in charge of SFF in our store) and when I tell people that the book they’re looking at is by the same author of No Country for Old Men, they seem a bit shocked. You see, there are just some books that don’t sell in sections where they should normally go, so experimentation is needed in our market.

Now, my section pulls in more money than any other section in the shop, and this is directly sure to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga books being sectioned there – I’m pretty damn excited to see how my section will hold up once sales start dropping off, but thankfully, it wont be happening any time soon. Why did I section Meyer in SFF? Well, it just didn’t fit anywhere else. Plus, why pass up the opportunity to show off the non-vampire stuff? Browsing in my section opens up universes. πŸ™‚

But there are still books that don’t sell. 😦

Gemmell, for instance, has dropped off quite a bit – but James Barclay is rising to the occasion. Steven Erikson is consistently a good seller, and so is Robert Jordan, as is Trudi Canavan and (brace yourselves) Terry Goodkind. (Hey, no matter what Terry says, I will put his books in SFF!) On the SF side of things, well, that’s a bit of a struggle, unfortunately. 😦 Sales for SF are slow and sporadic. Why? Blame Peter Jackson, I s’pose, but I think this goes deeper.

So see, we South Africans are a strange people. Our history makes us farmers, predominantly; that’s the foundation we come from. And farmers don’t have time to read. Centuries and decades down the line, you’ve got people who read at school, because they have to. You see, it’s just not an important part of life here, it isn’t encouraged. Sad, but true. The situation is changing, thanks to the likes of Rowling and Meyer (not so much Peter Jackson – I still get customers saying that they tried to read The Lord of the Rings but didn’t like it because Tolkien left out scenes that were in the movies); more people are reading here, teenagers, yes, but they are reading. This leads to sales across the board, but still not as much as I would like to see.

I’ve been blogging now for a year and four months, and I’ve run a couple of giveaways which have completely failed. Either readers here are inherently distrustful of anything free, or they just weren’t interested. I also consistently get more visits from the USA and UK than SA, even though everyone I know is on Facebook, so it’s not a problem of internet access. As long as I can read, though, I’ll be blogging and reviewing, and I’ve now got a reputation among SA publishers that I need to uphold, anyway. πŸ™‚

These are the reasons why the SFF market in SA is so small, and the only thing we can hope for is that (and this is a fact, not me being egotistical) more book sellers like me get into the book trade. We also need the publishers to take a more active role in bringing more SFF into SA, but that depends on sales. And above all, as book sellers, we need to make damn sure that all of our customers keep coming back. More sales means that we can experiment with them, take chances, and get them to read outside their comfort zone.

The small SFF market leaves us with another problem, though; loads and loads of people writing SFF, but no-one getting published. 😦

So, there we go. We’ve got an uphill climb, all the time, but damn it, it’s an incredible climb with spectacular views! πŸ™‚

Be EPIC!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Musings

 

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SFF – The TV / Motion Picture Adaptations

This post was originally published over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 16th of October 2009

This subject has been at the back of mind since I started my first blog.

Not, you may ask, since the excellent trilogy of movies that made up the epic The Lord of the Rings? I hear you ask. Well, no. See, the thing is, I hadn’t even discovered blogs yet. There might not even have been many of them (we’re definitely spoiled for choice nowadays). And most of the discussion at that time took place in two groups – the one group being loyal followes of JRR Tolkien’s work who were discussing the path Peter jackson took in adapting the novels for the big screen, the other group being those who had never even read the books before (shame on you!) and proceeded to either “Wow!” the movies, “It was okay, just too damn long,” the movies, or not even watch it because “Faries and magic and crap like that isn’t real, so I don’t have time for it!” the movies. Now, I’m not saying there weren’t discussions about future adaptations of SFF taking place – I’m saying that it just didn’t seem to be anything particularly worth talking about. It was a coup, and most people thought it wouldn’t be repeated.

But times have changed. I take as my prime examples the impending Pilot-shoot of George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones and the news that Peter V Brett’s debut, The Painted Man / The Warded Man, is now optioned to become a motion picture. There are many more examples (the practically forgotten news of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara movie, the -necessarily- dumbed-down The Legend of the Seeker. etc); practically every week new announcements are popping up, and there are a slew of projects busy taking shape as you read and a type this. My questions are the following:

1) What is the best medium for an adaptation – a TV series, done by those who know how (HBO?), or a movie done by a Hollywood studio?

2) If a motion picture is made, can the way these movies are made be changed to suit the material? For example, should SFF movies be longer, lets say 8 – 10 hours, with breaks in between? This would allow for proper character development, etc.

3) Which SFF novels (either stand-alone or in-series) do you think she be given an attempt?

4) Should we really take these movie- or TV-adaptions as seriously as we do? Author Steve Gould once said something to the effect of “The movie doesn’t change my book in any way. There it is on the shelf – exactly the same as the day it was published.”

For my part, in answer to the questions:

1) I vote for TV; TV offers not only the possibility of not having to change events so that the entire plot fits into 2, 2.5 hours on screen, but also allows for a more sustained (and therefore, more memorable) experience.

2) If movies have to be made, then I vote make them longer. It’s the only way.

3) Steven Erikson’s Malazan series and James Barclay’s Raven-series are at the top of my list of must-be-done. πŸ™‚

4) Absolutely not. It’s excruciating having to wait for A Game of Thrones and The Eye of the World, and I’m positive that most of us will be disappointed to some degree, but like Steve Gould says, the books will never change. That’s were it began, that’s where it’ll end. πŸ™‚

So, what do you all think?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Musings

 

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Goodbye to 2009

We’re a couple of hours away from what will, hopefully, be a massive year! πŸ™‚

Now, I’ve had a look at some things, blog- and stat-wise, and there will be some changes coming up in 2010 – very necessary changes, at that. πŸ™‚ But that’s still a couple of days away in any case.

Looking back on this year, I’m pretty damn satisfied. πŸ™‚

I’ve met some great people who have been helping me with my writing, offers critique and pushing me into avenues that I hadn’t explored; my short story, Bloodheat, was published by Adele over at Un:Bound; and I’ve been writing steadily as well as storing up ideas for more short stories and novels.

I haven’t yet accomplished what I want, though – I wanted to finish a manuscript but am, unfortunately, no where near that yet. So this will be the most important thing for me in 2010. πŸ™‚

So here are my writing-resolutions:

1) To finish a 120000 word manuscript in 2010.

2) To outline at least 2 more novels.

3) To finish all the short stories I’ve started writing and have had ideas for.

4) To get that first manuscript published.

That’s what I want to achieve, and what I have to achieve if I’m going to achieve my dream of being a successful author with two books on the shelves by the time I’m 30. And both sides of the Atlantic too, while I’m at it! πŸ™‚

There you have it. Lofty dreams and goals, but it’s doable, and it’ll take me closer to where I want to be: Retired before I’m forty, writing for the rest of my life. πŸ™‚

I really hope that you all have an absolutely wonderful evening, awesome parties, and that you get to spend this last day of 2009 with all the incredible, amazing and special people in your life. And if you’ve lost loved ones this year, remember, they may not be able to dance and drink and chat and get drunk with you, but they sure as hell will celebrate another year for you to spend on this beautiful planet! πŸ™‚

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May 2010 be ABSOLUTELY EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2009 in Musings

 
 
M.D. Thalmann / Satire and Sci-fi

M.D. Thalmann, a novelist and freelance journalist specializing in satire and science fiction, lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife, children, and ornery cats, reads too much and sleeps too little.

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