jeregenest: (Kale Trust)
As a lover of spy novels I have to deal with the fact that, quite frankly, its a pretty horribly sexist mode. Unlike fantasy, mysteries and even thrillers where I long ago made a commitment to reading 75% of my yearly reading being novels written by women, I give myself a pass when it comes to spy novels. The best I can do is avoid the misogynist stuff and champion the women writers when I find them.

Stella Rimington (former Director General of MI5, properly Dame Rimington) is such an author. I love her fiction because she traces all the simmering rivalries, tensions, and mistrust between the two premier branches of England’s “Secret State.” A tension I loved explored in Deighton’s work, in the Sandbaggers, heck it is some of the best parts of MI5 (Spooks). And she does it all by incorporating a lot of realistic insider background that I just eat up.

Liz Carlyle, the protagonist of these books, has a preoccupation with not becoming a marionette of her job and she seeks to find a balance in her life that many of her male fictional counterparts either ignore or devalue. She has found a priority that George Smiley only found too late in life.

In short, if you like spy novels go and read these. What are you waiting for?
jeregenest: (Default)
One of the issues I’ve been ruminating a bunch about is what makes a good conspiracy horror game and how has it changed in the post-9/11 world. I do think it has changed, certainly the conspiracy believers have changed and the genre should change as well.

There's certainly nothing original here, I'm just putting it in one place for ease of thought.

Musings on just what conspiracies horrific )
jeregenest: (Default)
Recently I’ve been thinking about what I like to read. That leads me to a thread of books that are all similar in some ways, but not all involving the fantastic, that I send most of my fiction time reading (and a good chunk of my non-fiction reading bleeds into). This process makes me realize I throw a lot of terms around so this post is designed to figure out what I mean by those categories.
Read more... )
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I believe (and I think it's central to the kind of books I have written, and I'd hazard it's true of many of the readers of my fellow interlocutors's work) that the appeal of a Secret History is universal, not necessarily because it promises to tell a secret; rather because it offers an alternative to the usual story we have to live with all day every day. Conspiracy addicts want a different story that's the real story; readers of secret histories just want something different, topsy-turvy, reversed or bottom-up.


John Crowley

Great round table discussion with John Crowley, Tim Powers, James Morrow and Jeffrey Ford on Eos Books about secret histories. The first two parts are up and I can't wait to see more.
jeregenest: (Default)
Over on Technoccult there a bunch of links of a panel between Grant Morrison and and Deepak Chopra which I found interesting given my recent superhero readings. There's a video and a link to IGN and CBR coverage.
jeregenest: (Default)
Jeffrey Ford, otherwise known as [livejournal.com profile] 14theditch, has written a piece over at litblog called Scratching the Surface: Ditherings About Digging History. Litblog is discussing his book The Girl in the Glass, which if you haven't read you should.

In his post, Mr Ford says:

Here’s where something happened that every future writer of an historical type novel should know.  There is this thing that happens in research that is completely metaphysical.  It defies random chance.  Do you know the word Kismet?  It can only be described as a kind of otherworldly luck.


I think that sentiment perfectly represents why I do so much historical gaming.

Its a good piece, folks should read it.
jeregenest: (Default)
Ted Chiang has a post about technology, magic and consciousness that I think people will benefit from reading.

It touches upon an anthropic view that I try to achieve with tantanea.
jeregenest: (Default)
The Little Professor has a great review of Lord Byron's Novel, a book I greatly enjoyed. The review was especially interesting to me because she makes reference to Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction by Suzanne Keen. This book sounds like it could be just what I'm looking for, but unfortunately my library network doesn't have it so that means an ILL (this serves as a reminder to do that).
jeregenest: (Default)
A successful (good?) crypto-thriller is heavy on exposition but manages, at the same time, to make said exposition very easy to swallow.

Examples: Katherine Neville, Dan Brown, Powers' Declare, The Rule of Four
jeregenest: (Default)
I’ve been contemplating John Grant’s
Gulliver Unravels: Generic Fantasy and the Loss of Subversion
in light of my recent readings. If you haven’t read this article, I think you should. I consider it one of the best summaries of what’s wrong with fantasy out there. I’m sure there is as good criticism out there on the web, but for some reason this remains one of my touchstones.

In recent discussion it occurs to me that a lot of the books we’re talking about are set on earth, whether in a nebulous “now”, a might-have-been-past, a slight alternate or a perhaps future (and al sorts of variations around those). [livejournal.com profile] princeofcairo mentioned he liked the term occult fantasy because it encompasses appropriate historical novels, his example was Lisa Goldstein’s Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon, and I think most people reading my livejournal could thing of a bunch more (might be worth a post of its own sometime).

Which brings me to a problem I’m having with historical fantasy in general lately, if you can ignore the history and it’s a straight fantasy tale no different from any other piece of generic fantasy than why bother? For me historical fantasy, and by extension, occult fantasy has to need to be set on our world to work, that by its use of vermisilitude (or some semblance there in) it makes a better story. Crowley’s Little, Big (one of the greats) works because it is set within the real world. Set the same story in FantasyLand and it’s just not that effective.

This is probably one of the reasons crypto-thrillers usually don’t work in a fantasy setting (and it has been tried), not enough oomph to the background.

Where am I going? No where in particular, just thinking aloud in light of my recent readings -- I still should do a review of the latest Crowley novel now that I’ve had time to think it over.
jeregenest: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] heron61 has been musing about occult fantasy and rpgs over on his livejournal. I think I disagree with his breakdown, mainly because the categories are so wide and overlapping. I'm not sure, for example, that I would place Rohan's Spiral Series in the same category as Charles de Lint, nor would I place McKinley's Sunshine in a different category from Anita Blake (well except for good versus bad). I think he also misses out on the whole occult crypto-thriller phenomena, or at least does it injustice by lumping it with Wheatley.

I think a problem is people confuse setting with genre all too often. Its one of the reasons I have come to dislike the term urban fantasy.

Someday I'll do the expansion of this line of reasoning I've been wanting to do. I'd like to, for example, follow Williams to Powers, stopping off at Katherine Neville and a few other points in between. The occult detective is another area that one could have fun exploring Carnack is to Anita is to Dresden, that sort of thing.

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