Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Review of Perdido Street Station

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished Perdido Street Station this week.

My earlier appraisal of it’s literary merit has been born out. This is possibly the most interesting fantasy book I’ve read in the past five years. I guess that’s why it’s won awards, eh?
Now, I’m going to talk plot, so if you’d like to avoid any spoilers, just skip this until later.

The book starts off with quite a lot of wandering around New Crobuzon, where the story takes place. But, there is plenty of action to keep the reader interested, so I didn’t really mind, even though it went on for almost 200 pages. The entire book, after all, is over 700 pages, so 200 setting up the story isn’t really that bad. And, in that 200 pages, China Mieville sets up several plots and sub-plots. But, it’s a bit further before the reader figures out which one is the main plot.
The first of the two dueling sub-plots involve a flightless bird-man, called garudas, named Yagharek. He’s had his wings sawed off as a punishment by his tribe for some unknown crime. He’s come seeking a rogue scientist named Issac Grimnebulin who can help him fly again. Or, so he hopes.
The second sub-plot, which becomes the main thrust of the action, is a result of Issac’s “reasearch” into flight for Yagharek. He accidentally acquires a very deadly moth in it’s caterpillar phase. He raises the moth, mainly out of curiosity, and accidentally releases it on the city.
These two plots continue through out the book, constantly intertwined to a greater or lesser degree. Issac and Yagharek are joined by a motley crew of compatriots and temporary allies as they try to solve both the problem of flight and the destruction of a deadly, mind-stealing moth. Along the way, they make numerous discoveries, meet with tragedy, and find renewed hope.

It’s a very interesting and thought provoking book. And worth every last page of the 710.


Mentat Chant

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I made a mistake!

I was going through my blog and noticed that I made a mistake in a reference to the Javacrucian Chant and where it originated. I said that it was based on the Litany Against Fear, but it’s not. It is, in fact, based on the little chant that the Mentats do when they drink the “juice of Sapho”, which is what gives them their legendary speed of thought.
That goes like this:
“It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the
juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire
stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I
set my mind in motion.”

As big a fan of the Dune books by Frank Herbert as I am, I’m really rather embarassed that I missed that! I guess it’s time to read the series again!!

Oh, and don’t forget, Sunday, March 16th, the SciFi Channel is playing their original move Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune. Before that, they have their previous original movie, Frank Herbert’s Dune on again! Get those VCRs ready!!


Conlang Phrasebooks

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Just added!

I’ve actually had these around for a bit now, but I finally got around to uploading them to my webserver. There are two phrasebook templates.
The first is a generic phrasebook similar to the Lonely Planet series of phrase books. It’s fairly safe and standard stuff. Pretty much everything a traveler could want to know how to say. And, I think it’s a fairly good introduction to a conlang!
The second phrasebook is a little more adult. It’s more along the lines of Howard Tomb’s “Wicked” phrasebook series or
Zakennayo!: The Real Japanese You Were Never Taught In School!
. It’s more irreverant and has terms that only very naughty tourists would know or want to know!! But, it’s a good place to start if you want to figure out how someone would curse in your conlang. Of course, the idioms used are all particular to a conlang that I’m working on at the moment, but at least it gives you a place to start.

You can find the phrasebook templates on the World Building Resource page.


Proud Parent

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

As proud a parent, or step-parent, can be!

My wife reported to me today that our daughter is a bit of a writer, which I knew. What I did not know, however, is that at least one of her teachers thinks she’s good enough to get published. Or have her work submitted to a contest. I wish I could claim that it was biological superiority that made her such a literary genius, but, alas, she is my step-daughter and I can make no such claim. However, it does give weight to the nurture-vs-nature argument. She has, after all, seen me working at the Craft for more than five years now. Surely, some of that must have rubbed off on her.
In any case, I have all the tools to help her find the appropriate publication or contest to submit her work to, if she wishes. I will not push her to do so, only suggest. At the moment, she writes for her own pleasure and I’d hate to take that away from her.
In the mean time, I’ll just be as proud as I can be of my daughter, the Writer.



Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Sheep which is mid-afternoon.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

That’s Bug Eyed Monsters.

Which are, of course, the most interesting characters in the Men In Black movies. I really loved the first one, and
Men in Black II
didn’t dissapoint either. It’s the same kind of raucus fun that the first movie was, but taken to a higher level. If you haven’t seen this yet, stop reading, ’cause I’m going to dish out some spoilers…
It was fun to see Tommy Lee Jones do his whole amnesiac, Postal worker bit and see Will Smith get to be the guy in the know for a change. But, still, the coolest stuff was really the CGI work and the aliens. They really are what drive this movie.
Most of the comedy is derived from human looking aliens not behaving quite like humans. And, as always, the “humans” that turn out to be aliens in disguise. My favorite, though, was Frank the Pug. First of all, pugs are cute. There, I said it and I’m not even embarassed. Pugs are, in fact, cute. A talking pug, even if it has a voice like a 50 year-old chain-smoker from Pittsburgh, is even cuter. And, as in the last movie, some of the best lines in the film were written for the dog. That had to hurt Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith, but it sure was funny. And, Frank as Agent J’s partner was just a hoot to watch!
I didn’t care much for Lara Flynn Boyle’s character though. She just never seemed alien to me. In fact, she barely seemed awake most of the time. Maybe keeping up with Jack’s worn her out. Who knows…. I actually used to like her work, but now she just seems kind of pathetic.

Anyway, it’s a fun, fun movie and well worth buying on DVD, but get the
special edition
with the blooper real!


Living Nightmares

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

What if there were no difference between nightmares and reality?

I know someone who reacts as though any dream or nightmare she has is reality. A nightmare might haunt her for days, making her irritable and even frightened. If I do something to her in a dream, she sometimes acts as though I actually did it. And, will occasionally hold whatever it is against me.
Imagine a person who cannot, in fact, tell the difference between dreams, nightmares and waking reality. How would that person act? What would their daily life be like? Is this, by definition, insanity? What kind of interaction problems might this person have?
I see, in a character like that, an interesting challenge and type of story. It’s a seed of an idea that needs to be married to a plot, but I can see possibilities here. Especially, if the story, whatever it may be, is told from the first person view. In fact, I think a device like this would only work from a first person point of view. That kind of limiting perspective is neccessary to get the full juice from that literary fruit.

Of course, someone will not doubt tell me that it’s been done to death already. After all, there’s nothing new under the sun.


Excuses = Writer’s Block

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Why making excuses is easier than writing.

I had an idea for an opening to a story the other day, but I didn’t do anything with it. Why? Well, there’s a lot of reasons, but they all boil down to fear induced writer’s block.
See, it’s like this… I have a series of ideas about stories set in a particular world. I can see whole, huge sections of the world all laid out for me in startling detail. But, I have no idea what anyone’s name is. Or, what their language is like. Now, I could just make it up as I went, but that feels wrong to me somehow. And, I’ve looked into creating a language, or several, from whole cloth. The only problem there is that I’m not a linguist, or even close enough to feel very comfortable creating the language. Still, I’m not quite willing to let someone else create that much of my world for me, either.
Quite a dilemma, no? No. Quite an excuse. I’ve been playing at language creation for literally years. By now, I could have several related languages and dialects, if I really wanted to have them. But, I’ve used that as an excuse to not write. Why? Because, I’m scared, that’s why. If I put work out there, people might not like it. And, it’s been more than ten years since I really wrote seriously. Damn, that was hard to admit. So, what to do…

Comments are welcome, folks.


Perdido Street Station

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Interesting fiction.

I’m currently reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. So far, it’s living up to the fabulous reviews. The novel is set in a very different setting, especially for fantasy. I don’t think I’ve ever read a good fantasy novel set in an industrial city setting before. And, I have to say, that he handles the setting very, very well. Which is why he’s won awards, I guess, eh?
In any case, I’m about half-way through and loving every minute of it. I was a little intimidated by the heft of the book, but it’s really been a pleasure to read and has gone fast. In fact, I’m hard pressed to remember the last time I really looked forward to reading this much.

Stay tuned for a full review when I’m done.

« Previous Page

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.