Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sick and Tired

OK, sick and tired is one of those phrases that can sometimes be seen as hyperbole, one of those phrases people use to say they are just annoyed with a certain situation.

Unfortunately for me, it's a literal meaning. I have been pretty darn sick all week, so much so that I have been unable to sleep much all week. I was quite lucky to just type the previous sentences and have them make sense. Do they make sense? Maybe only to my sleep-deprived brain and illness-addled mind.

So, I am going to be skipping another week of a blog post with some type of content that doesn't include me whining about my life or making excuses.

This has also made me realize that I may need to step back and take a look at what I've been doing on my blog. Life is crazy, and I need to schedule things better and plan ahead. I'm not even sure if any of my posts have been interesting to the few readers that I have (no one comments - ha!). Also, over the next six months, I will have a heavy load of classes, which will strain my time even more.

What do all of these thoughts mean?

I'm going to take a few days to chew over things. My blog will NOT be disappearing, that is a given, but I might be posting less, at least for a while. I know that means I will be in danger of losing the few readers I do have, but I think I may have to take that risk or lose my sanity (I mean, it's hanging by a thread to begin with!).

There will be no blog posts about Once Upon A Time for now, since I am so behind on episodes and people usually like reviews shortly after the episodes air. Perhaps I will review another episode down the line, but no promises (same with Grimm).

My next post will be my yearly goals and a look back at 2011, and I hope to write that up next week, when I also decide on the direction and time commitment I will be taking with this blog. I am open to any comments and suggestions as well.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and manages to stay healthier than I have been! Happy writing. <3

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Whether you celebrate Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, or another holiday this time of year, I wish everyone a happy holiday!

For all the writers out there, I hope you've reached your goals for the year and the holiday season isn't road-blocking your writing time (like it is me - heh).

My review on the next few episodes of Once Upon A Time will be delayed until next week.

Happy holidays and happy writing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steampunk and Time Travel in The Anubis Gates

SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read The Anubis Gates there are spoilers in this essay.

* * * * *

In the Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy class I took, we had to research the steampunk sub-genre. The Anubis Gates was on many steampunk lists as one of the original novels that started the sub-genre, and I was curious about it then, so I was pleased to have the chance to read it now. Time travel paradoxes also tend to make my head spin, so I was interested to see how Tim Powers handles it in The Anubis Gates.

I must admit, The Anubis Gates is not what I expected from a novel labeled as steampunk. When I think steampunk, I think more the science fiction side of things with the air ships, the interesting gadgets, and the focus on steam as a power source. Therefore, I did not expect to find so much magic in such a novel! I'm quite glad I had the chance to read this novel, though, since it did give me a fresh perspective on the sub-genre. And with it leaning toward fantasy because of all the magic, I enjoyed it immensely.

When I wrote my essay on Boneshaker for the aforementioned class, I used an article I found on the internet called "Steampunk: A List of Themes" to examine how that novel incorporates steampunk elements. I looked at the article again after reading The Anubis Gates to see just how many categories it fits into. It's obviously an alternate history, closing in on the Victorian era, so we see a lot of those antiquities. There's the cannon near the end of the novel and the gunpowder used throughout. Plus the chemistry used in the magic and to alter the humans and animals in Horrabin's "hospital"--Horrabin and his father I think would rightly qualify to be labeled as mad scientists. There is the monster, of course. Dog-face Joe is a wonderful twist on a typical werewolf. There are secret societies, sword fights, and a clear class divide (Doyle himself experiences life on the low and high end of this). All of these things clearly make The Anubis Gates a steampunk novel, and I am even more enamored with the sub-genre after seeing this fantasy side versus the science fiction side.

But before we are steeped in this magically rich Victorian time period, the main character needs to get there first. And even though The Anubis Gates is steampunk, it's also a time travel story. Time travel is a fickle thing. The writer needs to set things up just right to make sure it all makes sense. Paradoxes are easy to fall into. Powers sets up his view on how time travel works in this world right away when Doyle and the others arrive for the Coleridge speech. History already states that Coleridge lectured at that date and time, but if Doyle and friends wouldn't have arrived and paid the money to rent the room for the lecture, it never would have happened. From this example it's clearly seen that Powers' view on time travel (at least in this novel) is that you can't go back and change things--everything has already happened. There is no way to change history because if you travel back in time, you've already effected that history so the result will be exactly the same.

Even though I think the "it's already happened" approach is a great one, since it doesn't mean the writer has to explain the ripple effect, I still found it hard to accept everything concerning the time traveling. Once Doyle was left behind in 1810, I had a hunch that he would actually be William Ashbless. That hunch was obviously correct, and I do think the set-up for it was done quite nicely. However, there were just some instances where I fell into a couple paradoxical holes. First was the poem, "The Twelve Hours of the Night". Since Doyle is Ashbless, he wrote the poem at the coffee house. As he admits, he wrote it from memory. So if he is the original creator of the poem, where did the words come from in the first place? It's like the eternal debate of "what came first, the chicken or the egg?", since you keep going in circles on trying to figure it out. The words had to be originally written at some point. Powers tries to explain things away later: "My God, he thought, then if I stay and live out my life as Ashbless--which the universe pretty clearly means me to do--then nobody wrote Ashbless' poems. . . They're a closed loop, uncreated! I'm just the . . . messenger and caretaker" (273). But the words have to come from somewhere originally, so this assertion fell flat for me. Even later in the book Doyle decides his experiences are what Ashbless must have been talking about in the poem, but it's hard to believe that the poem came before the actual experiences. Even the words in the book from the 1600s has the smell of paradox. Doyle would never have written the Pig Latin words in the book if he hadn't seen them in 1810, but if that was the only reason he wrote them, they shouldn't probably have been written in the first place. It can become a circular mess, and even trying to write about it strains my brain cells.

Even though I had some issues accepting some of the time travel paradoxes, I overall did find The Anubis Gates a great read. The story was compelling, even when you did know things were already "written in stone", so to speak, and it was hard to put down. I can see why this steampunk fantasy is considered a classic, and it makes me want to read even more in the sub-genre.

Works Cited

EvilEgg. "Steampunk: A List of Themes." Writing.com. 2007. Web.
Powers, Tim. The Anubis Gates. The Berkley Publishing Group: New York, 1983.

NEXT UP: A review of a few more episodes of Once Upon A Time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Classic Fantasy from 1975-1989

This will be the last reading list I post in my Classic Fantasy series! And next week will be the final essay in the series as well. I hope you all enjoyed this series and came away with a longer reading list than you had before. I plan to revisit this Classic Fantasy series in the future to take a closer at some of the other texts which I have listed.

Without further ado, here is the reading list for Classic Fantasy from 1975-1989!

The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip
The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson
A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth series) by Piers Anthony
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Gate of Ivrel by C. J. Cherryh
Beauty by Robin McKinley
MythAdeventures by Robert Lynn Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Tales of Neveryon by Samuel R. Delany
Split Infinity (Apprentice Adept series) by Piers Anthony
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll
Little, Big by John Crowley
Imaro by Charles R. Saunders
Pawn of Prophecy (Belagriad Sequence) by David Eddings
Magician (Riftwar Saga) by Raymond E. Feist
The Elfin Ship by James Blaylock
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Black Company by Glen Cook
Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones
A Blackbird in Silver (Blackbird Quartet) by Freda Warrington
Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm
Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Jack, the Giant Killer by Charles De Lint
The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie - 1989

Again, this list was pulled from the following two books: Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination by Richard Mathews and A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James.

Keep reading fantasy, past and present!

UP NEXT: An essay on The Anubis Gates.