Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Tough Guide to FantasyLand by Diana Wynne Jones

I heard about this book several years ago as a must have for anyone writing fantasy. I finally borrowed a copy from the library several months ago. It was so funny that I ordered a copy from the bookstore.

Even if your only knowledge of fantasy is The Lord of the Rings movie, I think you'll find this book really funny to read. And that is a bit odd because it is organized like a dictionary, but I read it front to back occassionally stopping because I couldn't breathe as I was laughing so hard.

A small taste of what's inside:

CLOTHING. Although this varies from place to place, there are two absolute rules:
1. Apart from ROBES, no garment thicker than a SHIRT ever has sleeves.
2. No one ever wears SOCKS.

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones; put it on your books to buy list.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Plot or Sequence of Events?

Recently I read a bit of historical fiction set during World War II. One of the subplots of the book got me to thinking about plot and the difference between plot and a sequence of events.

To summarize it, two pairs of nazi spies sneak into Jacksonville, Fl then proceed to create chaos by blowing things up. One pair heads west blowing things up until one of them screws up the timer. The bomb goes off early killing that pair. The other pair heads north blowing things up until one of them gets involved with a mob prostitute. An altercation with her mob boss ends up with the pair of spies being killed. Game over.

The thing is even though the bad guys end up dead and thus stopped from creating further chaos, the telling of it doesn't feel satisfying to me. There was no one actively trying to catch them. Those who were looking into the bombings dismissed it as not being the work of nazi spies. These spies did not have a goal that they were trying to achieve other than wander around the continental US and blow things up. And they encountered no real obstacles, in terms of local law enforcement, blowing up their targets. If these guys hadn't run into misfortune, they would still be running around blowing things up today with no one having a clue that they were doing so.

So what this really is is the telling of a sequence of events like one would read in a history book and not a plot or a story. And what turns a sequence of events into a plot or a story is having a goal and having obstacles to that goal. Otherwise what you get is they went here, they went there, they did this, they did that; all of it without purpose and no reason to keep reading unless one finds a recounting of events fascinating.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tour de Turtles

Tour de Turtles: It's a sea turtle marathon race. "Created by Sea Turtle Conservancy, with help from sponsors and partners, this event follows the marathon migration of sea turtles, representing different species, from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. 2011 is the fourth year of the TdT and will follow the migration of 15 sea turtles, representing four different species."

If you have kids or know someone who has kids or if you're a kid at heart, this is pretty cool. You can find out all about it here.