delphipsmith: (GilesLatin)
I might have claimed a prompt over on [ profile] sshg_promptfest. Heh heh heh. And TWO of my prompts have been claimed ::preens::

On another fun note, I discovered something called Starship Sofa: The Audio Science Fiction Magazine. It's narrated by a couple of funny and fabulously-accented (I could listen to them all night) Irish guys, who are also well-read, interesting, and thoughtful in their analysis of various SF people and things. This particular post has a long two-part piece on one of my favorite authors, Stephen R. Donaldson, including a reading of his story "Mythological Beast."
delphipsmith: (classic quill)
Anita Brookner has died. The first thing of hers that I read was Hotel du Lac, a battered copy found on a bookshelf in a bed-and-breakfast in Germany; twenty-five years later it remains one of my favorite books. Her finely crafted novels, with their precision of description and compactness of focus, are like medieval miniatures. I'm sad there will be no more from her.
delphipsmith: (BuffyVlad)
“The one test of the really weird [in writing] is simply this,” H. P. Lovecraft wrote in the introduction to “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” “whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes or entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.”

I love this definition so much. "Scratching...on the known universe's utmost rim." Perfect.

(Quoted in a 2008 interview with Stephen King; the whole interview is excellent.)
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
A wonderful interview with him over on Huffington Post:

"In my view, all these ideologies have destroyed literary study in the graduate schools and in the academies...All these "isms" are preposterous of course; they have nothing to do with the study of literature or with its originality. As I've said before, the esthetic is an individual and not a social concern..." Read the rest ==>

He says the influence of Derrida and Foucault has been "pernicious," heh heh. Such a great word. But what do you suppose grad students would be talking about today if those two hadn't come along? Bloom also recommends reading aloud as a way to "get inside" a writer, which I totally agree with. I've always loved reading aloud; my mom read to me and my brother until I was twelve or thirteen. When the final Harry Potter book came out, neither Mr Psmith nor I could wait for the other person to read it first, so we read it aloud in turns -- I think it took us three days but it was wonderful. There's something really special and different about reading aloud: you can taste the words, roll them around in your mouth, listen as they fall onto your ears. It adds a delightfully physical component to what is otherwise a purely mental activity.

I am insanely jealous of those lucky few who get to attend the small seminars Bloom says he teaches at his home. Oh, what I wouldn't give!!
delphipsmith: (magick)
I just learned that Tanith Lee died late last month. She has always been one of my favorite authors, and I'm so sorry she's gone. I bought her Red as Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer from the Science Fiction Book Club (remember that?) decades ago; it was my first encounter with fairy tale reimaginings and engendered a lifelong love of that genre. I also loved her Birthgrave series -- dark, weird, sword-and-sorcery + psychological myth-making -- and The Silver Metal Lover.

Her official website displays a single quote, red lettering on black:

Though we come and go, and pass into the shadows, where we leave
behind us stories told – on paper, on the wings of butterflies, on the
wind, on the hearts of others – there we are remembered, there we work
magic and great change, passing on the fire like a torch, forever
and forever. Till the sky falls, and all things are flawless and need
no words at all.

RIP, Tanith.
delphipsmith: (Hepburn)
Apparently the 60th anniversary edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which I don't own but clearly need to possess, includes a new coda by the author. It is a masterpiece of literate laceration, in which he excoriates the obsession with political correctness which, taken to its extreme, leads to everything sounding just like everything else.

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conservationist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons like not my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" so it shapes "Zoot," may the belt unravel and the pants fall...

Read the full text here, and tell me what you think.
delphipsmith: (snape applause)
The Unbearable Solitude of Being an African Fangirl

Striking, illuminating, and poignant. The author, Chinelo Onwualu, is a young Nigerian author, graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop (more proof, if any were needed, that Clarion is the gold standard for speculative fiction writers). You can read one of her stories here on Ideomancer: Tasting Gomoa
delphipsmith: (grinchmas)
Since [ profile] mini_fest is posting and [ profile] hoggywartyxmas is coming up soon, this seems appropriate:

"JK Rowling To Write Malfoy Story And Other New Harry Potter Content For
Christmas. The Yule Ball is of course a chance for us all to — er — let our hair
down..." Read more ==>

Do you suppose she'll finally admit that Harry and Draco are meant for each other lol?!
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
Holy %*(&#$ have I been busy the last six weeks. Since the last weekend in October I have done the following: an out-of-town wedding, two workshops, one conference, a fast trip home for my grandmother's 94th birthday, planned/hosted a luncheon for 22 people (for which I made THE most fun pirate-themed centerpieces, but forget to have Mr Psmith take photo, drat), one play, one fund-raiser at our local zoo, and picked out the Christmas tree.

Oh, and then there was the regular stuff like work and paying attention to Mr Psmith. He mopes when he's neglected.


Anyway, I've at last gotten round to finishing the 50 books meme. "The what?" I hear you say. "I think I remember that but it was ages ago." Yes, well, I shall refresh your memory: "List 50 books and authors that have shaped who I am, how I think, what I treasure in reading, what I aspire to in writing - in short, encounters that have left an imprint. I'm not talking here about reading achievements, but of literary documents (apply definition of your choice) that sent you careening off in intellectual pursuit or struck you with a sense of discovery or seemed exactly what you needed to hear at that point in your evolution."

Et maintenant, sans plus tarder, je vous présente ma liste. Ask away if you want more information on any of them. (Also, speaking of books, I will soon be doing my annual shelf cleanout and book giveaway, so watch this space!)

1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
2. Tolkien (everything)
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. The New Lucinda by Grace Gelvin Kisinger
5. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
6. Wizard of Earthsea books by Ursula LeGuin
7. Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail by Jacqueline Jackson
8. This Star Shall Abide by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
9. Gibbon's Decline and Fall and The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
10. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer
11. The Quartzsite Trip by William Hogan
12. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
13. Bambi by Felix Salten
14. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
15. Magister Ludi by Hermann Hesse
16. The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg
17. e e cummings poetry
18. Countee Cullen poetry
19. Textual Poaching by Henry Jenkins
20. Caesar and Christ by Will and Ariel Durant
21. Foundation Isaac Asimov
22. Dragonsong/Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
23. Obituary page of The Economist
24. Ugly War, Pretty Package by Deborah Jaramillo
25. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
26. Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy by Patricia McKillip
27. Half Magic by Edward Eager
28. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
29. Animal Farm by George Orwell
30. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
31. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
32. Unicorns in the Rain by Barbara Cohen
33. my 8th grade geometry textbook
34. Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
35. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
36. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
37. The Stand by Stephen King
38. The Cricklewood Diet by Alan Coren
39. What Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
40. The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu
41. Aristotle (Poetics, Politics, Nicomachean Ethics)
42. Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
43. Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey), by Dorothy Sayers
44. Terry Pratchett (everything)
45. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (illustrated by Jules Feiffer)
46. Dr. Seuss (everything!)
47. Life, Inc.
48. The Dark is Rising (all five) by Susan Cooper
49. Victoria Holt's gothic romances
50. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
delphipsmith: (books-n-brandy)
...for me to contribute my mite to the Influential Books Post Meme, following in the able footsteps of [ profile] kellychambliss and [ profile] perverseidyll among others, you might enjoy this discussion of 10 Reasons Why Le Guin's Earthsea Books Can Still Change Your Life. Some of the comments are interesting, as people go into detail about what the books meant to them.

Spoiler alert: yeah, Le Guin will be on my list :)
delphipsmith: (thinker)
Just discovered not one but TWO interviews with one of my favorite authors, Ted Chiang! If you don't know Ted Chiang, you are missing out on some truly stunning work. He's a technical writer by trade, but on the side a writer of science fiction or possibly fantasy or perhaps speculative fiction, depending on your definition). A consistent theme of his work is the interplay between science, religion and magic, and many of his stories explore the places where these three intersect or blur into one another. This also happens to be a big interest of mine, so of course I devour anything he writes. As someone famous once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and Chiang's stories often play with this idea, pushing the boundaries or rather showing that the boundaries are perhaps fuzzier than we think. You can read several of his stories, including the wonderful "Hell is the Absence of God," here.

In the first interview, he says this:

There is a similarity between science and religion in that they're both attempts to understand the universe, and there was a time in the past when science and religion were not seen as incompatible, when it made perfect sense to be both a scientist and a religious person. Nowadays there is much more of an attitude that the two are incompatible. I think that's sort of a 20th century phenomenon.

I find this an interesting observation. Time was, in the not-so-distant past, one could be both a good Christian and a good scientist (*koff*Jesuits*koff*). Even during the Enlightenment, a scientist working diligently to fully understand the natural world was not (necessarily) seen as a threat to belief in God but as paying tribute to it, by uncovering new marvels and demonstrating the incredible complexity and beauty therein. Likewise, no scientist felt obligated to denounce religion as a bunch of hokum and say that anybody who believed it was a fool. But these days it's not uncommon to run across some fairly strong rhetoric that makes the two seem fundamentally (ha ha) incompatible, such as the anti-science stance of some on the far right.

On the other hand, just last week I learned that my former home state is trying to remove evolution from the curriculum on the grounds that science IS a religion, so perhaps the two are closer than we think...

But I digress. I was talking about how masterfully Chiang explores this in his writing. I don't want to give away any spoilers (because I REALLY want everyone I know to go and read him for themselves!), but the best examples are in his collection Stories of Your Life and Others. The title story manages to combine alien linguistics with the problem of free will AND will make you cry, an impressive feat for a single story. "Tower of Babylon" and "Seventy-Two Letters" are excellent examples of the religion of magic, or the magic of science, or the science of religion, however you want to think about it, each with a twist at the end that makes you go "woa..."

To leave questions of religion aside, the last story in the book is particularly pertinent to women, I think, since we live in a society that places an abnormal priority on female beauty, and one narrow form of it to boot, with photo-shopped models and the constant selling of beauty products. The story is called "Liking What You See: A Documentary" and is about a near-future invention that allows people to switch off their perception of whether a person is beautiful or not. (This is not as far-fetched as it sounds -- scientists are increasingly fine-tuning their knowledge of where in the brain things happen.) The story is written as a documentary, with interviews with college students, parents, scientists, religious figures, business people (advertising!), etc. all arguing for or against it on one or another grounds. All of the interviews are interesting, but the most poignant is perhaps the main character, a college-age girl trying to decide which is right for her. Like most of Chiang's stories, the purpose is more to make you think rather than convince of a certain way of thinking. It's fascinating and eerie and discomfiting all at once.

In the second interview, which actually was first since it was in 2002 and the other one was in 2010, he has this to say:

[M]agic is always esoteric, whereas science and technology are fundamentally egalitarian. Magic's something for the few, the elect, the anointed, or someone who has a gift, but science is ultimately amenable to mass production, so we can all enjoy the benefits.

What do you think about this distinction, of magic as elitist and science as egalitarian? If, for example, in the world of Harry Potter, some mutation made everyone magical, would it no longer be magic since it's available to everyone? Or what if magic were attainable by anyone willing to work really hard, or pay a certain price?
delphipsmith: (George)
1. Kenneth Branagh (squeee!) will be directing a live-action version of Cinderella. Helena Bonham Carter plays the Fairy Godmother (so, presumably, not a crazy hag -- surprise! Though she's also playing Miss Havisham, so maybe this is an anomaly).

2. Chickens: the Steadi-Cam of the animal kingdom

3. Miss Piggy wearing the Hope Diamond. Yup, the actual Hope Diamond.

4. The Secret Life of Bees and The Necromancer's House (yeah, I need to write a proper review, but trust me on this: they're both -- in very different ways -- fantastic.

5. New Pope rocks.

6. Queen + physics = Bohemian Gravity:

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delphipsmith: (all shall be well)
The Ocean at the End of the LaneHow do you do this in only 178 pages, Neil? How?? How???

You know how there are some books that, when you finish them, you don't want to start another one, at least not right away? You don't want the experience you've just had to be overwritten, or diluted; instead you want to cherish it for a little longer. Let it steep, as it were.

This is that sort of book.

The main character is a child, but this is not a children's book, not by a long shot. A healthy dollop of myth, a bit of poetry, a glimpse or two of deep mystery, frosted with horror and seasoned with that pure intensity of emotion that's hard to recapture outside of childhood...

Oh, just go read it, will you? Preferably now, and in one sitting. It's brilliant.
delphipsmith: (calvin books)
I know, a weird combination of subjects, right? And yet here they are, together on this very page!

First, the man who saved the bunnies: A Marine corpsman stationed at Camp Pendleton found a dead rabbit while out and about on the base, and after exploring nearby he discovered four baby bunnies, which he took home and fed and raised until they were old enough to survive on their own (more pics). This man is my hero :) He apparently also rescued kittens in Iraq, and he also mentions finding a tiny tiny frog which he named Crouton. I don't know why, but that made me laugh hysterically for quite some time.

On WritingOn another note, I'm re-reading Stephen King's On Writing and very much enjoying it. He's straightforward and blunt and some of his observations are remarkably perceptive. "The road to hell is paved with adverbs," he says, comparing them to dandelions (one is pretty, but next thing you know they've invaded everywhere) and advising you to avoid them like the plague. Then he goes on to theorize that writers tend to use adverbs when they are less-confident -- they aren't sure that they've shown what's happening and therefore feel the need to also tell:

Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It's by no means a terrible sentence (at least it's got an active verb going for it) but ask yourself if firmly really needs to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you'll get no argument from me...but what about the context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before He closed the door firmly? Shouldn't this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn't firmly an extra word? Isn't it redundant?

Then he goes on to talk about Tom Swifties and the popular game of making up punny ones (You've got a nice butt lady," he said cheekily.) and closes by saying, "When debating whether or not to make some pernicious dandelion of an adverb part of your [writing], I suggest you ask yourself if you really want to write the sort of prose that might wind up in a party game."

Here is where he talks about his idea of the Muse; it's quite a bit different in detail from what most people might think, but he's got the essence of it correct: that the muse is capricious and you've got to work to catch/deserve their attention.

...if you don't want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well...There is a muse,* but he's not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He's a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it's fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he's on duty), but he's got the inspiration. It's right that you should do all the work and burn the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There's stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know. (pp. 138-39)

*Traditionally the muses were women, but mine's a guy; I'm afraid we'll all just have to live with that.

A few pages later, after he's talked about how it helps to have a place you can go (and if you're starting out, it's especially important that that place have as few distractions as possible!), he says this:

But you need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door. You need a concrete goal, as well. The longer you keep to these basics, the easier the act of writing will become. Don't wait for the muse. As I've said, he's a hard-headed guy who's not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn't the Ouija board or the spirit-world we're talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you're going to be every day from nine til noon or seven til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he'll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.

Like I said, the details aren't what I imagine (I can't picture a cigar-smoking muse, but Damon Runyon and Ed McBain probably could!), but I agree with the core principles: work hard and make the muse feel welcome
delphipsmith: (the road)
Thing 2 of the 100 Things Poems! "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes, has everything: true love and infinite courage, heartbreak and death, a deeply romantic tale and a lovely ghost story. I don't ever remember not knowing this poem. When I was in 8th grade my English teacher gave extra credit if you memorized poems, and this was one of them, but I'm pretty sure I knew it before that. It's best read aloud; it has wonderful rhythmic beat to it that evokes the hoofbeats of the highwayman's galloping horse. I can't come up with a word for how this poem makes me feel -- aching, haunted, sorrowful, longing, it's all of those and none of them and more -- but it's always drawn a real lump-in-the-throat response from me, more so the older I get and the more I revisit it (which is odd, you'd think it's impact would fade). Here are a few stanzas to give the the flavor; the full text is online here.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

Loreena McKennit has done a gorgeously lush and haunting version of it, which to this day, no matter that I've heard it dozens of times, makes me tear up:

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delphipsmith: (BA beta)
Clarion West just announced their author/teacher lineup for 2013: Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Justina Robson, Ellen Datlow, and Samuel R. Delany. Four are among my favorite writers EVER, the fifth I'd never heard of but her blog cracks me up, and as for the sixth, well, y'all know who Joe Hill is, right? Heart-Shaped Box and all that. In short, major star power all around that spans the last fifty years of speculative fiction.

(Mr Psmith wants me to go just so I can ask Neil Gaiman what Terry Pratchett is like as a writing partner, heh heh heh...)

So yes, this is the year I apply. Next month is my online writing group's SSIAW (Short Story in a Week; it's like NaNoWriMo only, well, shorter) which is a great chance to crank out four stories, giving me a respectable number to choose from for submission. I used to be all about the novel writing, but I'm gradually being seduced by the short story format: it's like the difference between a giant canvas and a page from a medieval Book of Hours, where every brushstroke matters.

One of the ones I think I'll submit is the one that Big Name Magazine unofficially accepted back in October. They still haven't contacted me about a contract. *iz annoyed* I don't want to give up on them because, well, they're Big Name Magazine. And not just Big Name now but Big Name in the history of sci fi as well. So, I guess I keep waiting to find out if I've really been invited to the big dance or if it's just a shoddy trick being played on me by the Popular People and there's a bucket of pig blood poised over my head. Not that there will be Carrie-level vengeance or anything if you jilt me, Big Name Magazine. Really. Honest. Take your time. It's not like I'm ANXIOUS or anything.

Meanwhile I have two fests coming up in October, not to mention the incredibly, horrifyingly, beyond embarrassingly late custom fic that was purchased on the [ profile] loveforlily auction. (I suck, I really do. I deserve to be flayed or shunned or deprived of wine. Wait, forget that last one...)

'Nuff said. Clarion applications open in December. Eyes on the prize, baby, eyes on the prize...
delphipsmith: (thinker)
Re-read Atlas Shrugged (warning: link has spoilers!) over the past couple of weeks. The first time I read it was during Christmas break of my senior year in college and I still remember feeling like an enormous explosion had gone off in my head, a "Wow, so that's how it works!" Now every time winter sets in I get the urge to revisit it. It's better every time I go back to it which to me is the sign of a Really Good Book: only something with a lot of substance can stand up to repeated re-readings. (Though Glenn Beck also reportedly likes it, and I must admit to vast annoyance that Glenn Beck and I agree on ANYTHING.)

Ooh, and I read it on the Kindle, which means a) I didn't strain my wrist and b) I was able to mark ALL MY FAVORITE QUOTES as I went and then -- hold onto your hats -- view them ALL AT ONCE! Now that is cool. Most of them are too long for this venue (John Galt's speech LOL!), but here's a sampling of my favorite short ones:

"If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception."

"There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think."

"When one acts on pity against justice, it is the good whom one punishes for the sake of the evil; when one saves the guilty from suffering, it is the innocent whom one forces to suffer."

"What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can't stand still. It must grow or perish."

"Whether it's a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one's own eyes–which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification–which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before."

"People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I've learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one's reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one's master, comdemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person's view requires to be faked."

"Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another."

It's a shame that the book's message has been so misunderstood; from her phrase "rational selfishness" everyone remembers the "selfishness" but forgets the "rational" part even though that's a critical component. I'm pretty sure Rand would have been horrified at the banking collapse and probably at much of modern finance, since it consists largely of merely shifting bits of paper around (and a lot of it is automated these days). After all, it's the value you add to something that entitles you to compensation for your effort, whether mental or physical; if you add nothing, you deserve nothing.

She'd have been Ron Paul supporter, no doubt :D
delphipsmith: (weeping angel)
...somewhere tonight: Anne McCaffrey dies at 85. Her books were among my earliest introductions to science fiction and fantasy (not to mention strong female characters therein) along with Sylvia Louise Engdahl, Ursula LeGuin, Sheri Tepper, James Tiptree, Tanith Lee, etc. (gosh, they're all women, imagine that). I'm sure her son is doing his best, but you can't really channel another writer, even if you were raised by them. I guess that's an argument for nature vs nurture.

Given the fabulous dragon in Harry Potter DH2 (and probably in Peter Jackson's Hobbit), dare I hope that someone will realize Dragonflight on film? Perhaps not -- Ramoth's mating flight might be a bit dodgy ratings-wise. But we can hope...
delphipsmith: (much rejoicing)
Well, obviously this was AWESOME, since I finished Name of the Wind on the 7th and this on the 9th. OK, it was actually 2am on the 10th. A. Ma. Zing. But Patrick, Patrick, how can you keep us waiting until May 2012???? Especially when you said they were all done????
delphipsmith: (library)
The Name of the Wind is an amazing book -- gorgeous flowing prose, a plot that draws you in and along, places so vividly described you'd swear he'd actually been there, and characters so three-dimensional -- not just Kvothe but all the secondary characters as well -- that you feel as if you've actually met them, not just read about them. Both the world and the people that he creates are so real that almost immediately you fall into the story, forget you're reading and feel rather that you're living it, seeing events with your own eyes. It's rare writing that drills straight into the imagination like that without (apparently) needing to pass through the eyes or requiring translation by the brain. Like you're mainlining the story. I'm in awe of his skill. On to Book 2 immediately! (And then of course the Big Wait, because part 3 isn't out yet. I hate waiting. Grrr. Curse you, Patrick Rothfuss!!)


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