MIND MELD: Our Favorite SF/F/H Consumed In 2013

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It’s 2014 and that means it’s time to look back at all the SF/F/H available in 2013. Our panelists were asked this question:

Q: What was the best SF/F/H you “consumed” in 2013?

Consumed being anything read/watched/heard during 2013, but not necessarily new in 2013. Here’s what they said…
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MIND MELD: Worthy Media Tie-ins

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From Star Wars to X-Men, Halo to Star Trek, many media franchises also offer tie-in novels, giving fans another way to enjoy their favorite worlds and characters.  But which media tie in novels are the cream of the crop? we asked some experts:

Q: Many movies, TV shows, comic books, and even video games have gotten the novelization or media tie-in treatment. Be it a direct novelization of the original property or an original story based on the characters, what media tie-in books have been a worthy addition to their franchise?

Here’s what they said…

Tricia Barr
Tricia Barr writes about fandom, heroines, and genre storytelling at her blog FANgirl and contributes to her Star Wars expertise to Suvudu.com, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Blog and Star Wars Insider magazine. She has completed her first original novel, Wynde, a military science fiction epic with a twist of fantasy.

Over thirty-five years later, many fans do not realize that A New Hope, known simply as Star Wars back in 1977, used a novelization and Marvel comics to generate considerable pre-release buzz. The Prequel Trilogy continued this tradition, with April publications of the novelizations in advance of the May movies. When Episode III novelization author Matthew Stover stepped on stage for his book panel at the official franchise convention Star Wars Celebration III, after the book’s release and before the film opened, he was greeted like a rock star. The impending release of Revenge of the Sith certainly helped spur on the fan hoopla, but it was the way Stover masterfully wove together the fall of the Jedi Order and its hero, Anakin Skywalker, that excited a fandom that had survived the Dark Times – the period between the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy – by reading books and comics. The standing-room- only crowd of novel enthusiasts appreciated the way he had turned a visual story into powerful prose. While much of the Revenge of the Sith novelization maintained the traditional third-person-limited point of view narrative, Stover ventured into second-person explorations of the key characters like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, and Padmé Amidala. He also explained at his panel why the battle scenes that took place on Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk were not included in the novelization: to maintain the thematic focus on Anakin Skywalker’s fall. While there were no Wookiees in the book, Stover used a recurring metaphor of a dragon to foreshadow the story’s conclusion.
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In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend two or three authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Jim C. Hines.
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We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What are some of the most overdone tropes and stereotypes in SF/F? What are some of the most useful? What are some of the most damaging?

Here’s what they said…

Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley is an award-winning, Nebula nominated author. Her personal and professional exploits have taken her all around the world. Visit kameronhurley.com for details on upcoming projects, short fiction, and meditations on the writing life.

Tropes are a funny thing. To some extent, knowing and expecting what’s going to happen next in a story – anticipating a particular structure and story elements – is why we’re drawn to specific genres and sub-genres. Many romance readers are looking for boy meets girl, boy loses girl (or girl loses boy) but they happily (and sexily) get together at the end. Hard SF readers may be reading for a Big Idea and exploring how it changes our society, but be less interested in the characters moving that big idea around on the stage. Urban Fantasy readers may be looking for tough – but vulnerable! – heroines put into paranormal situations that may seem harrowing, but all work out at the end. And in Epic Fantasy, many still expect the White Hats (Stark white!) to Save the World.
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Jim C. Hines Strikes a Pose for Charity

Author and Hugo Award-winning fan writer Jim C. Hines, he of the Women and Fantasy Covers post, is at it again…only this time in the name of charity.

Jim has launched an annual fundraiser to benefit the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation. What he’s offering is brand new cover poses like the one above. The more that’s donated, the more he’ll do. John Scalzi is in on this and figures into the tiered poses.

Check out Jim’s post Cover Posing for a Good Cause for more information.

Best Fan Writer Hugo-winner Jim C. Hines nominated me to moderate the first panel I was ever on. He loves breaking in new writers. His Jig The Dragonslayer trilogy, now out in a Daw omnibus, is a humorous sword and sorcery tale about a goblin. He followed that with the four book Princess cycle which are fairy tales gone awry crossing Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels. Published by Daw Books, his latest book Libriomancer starts a new trilogy, Magic Ex-Libris, about a librarian hunting a killer. Because he likes to stretch himself, being as he lives in Lansing, he set this series in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s an urban fantasy with a lot of humor, involving dryads, wizards, vampires, automatons and more. Jim’s short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy, Andromeda Spaceways, Writers of the Future and several anthologies. He can be found online at Facebook, Twitter via his website at and his blog.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt talks to Jim C. Hines about his career and his exciting future projects.


SFFWRTCHT: Starting at the beginning, Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

Jim C. Hines: Ahem. Is this thing on? My interest in SF/F comes from the fact that swords and magic and spaceships and lightsabers are awesome.

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Jim C. Hines‘s fiction has appeared in more than forty magazines and anthologies. His first published fantasy novel was Goblin Quest, after which he went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. Jim’s books have been translated into German, French, Czech, Polish, and Russian, thanks in no small part to his wonderful agent. In 2010, he signed a contract with DAW Books for a new current-day fantasy series. His latest novel is Libriomancer. Jim lives in mid-Michigan with his wife and children, who have always shown remarkable tolerance for his bizarre and obsessive writing habits.

Photo © Denise Leigh

Libriomancer: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour

by Jim C. Hines

Libriomancer is the story of Isaac Vainio, a librarian from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the ability to reach into books and create the items described on their pages: everything from disruptor pistols to Lucy’s magical healing potion from Narnia. He’s a member of Die Zwelf Portenære, a magical organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg, the man who invented libriomancy … a man who has now gone missing, and may be responsible for a string of supernatural murders.

Also, in chapter one, Isaac has to fight a trio of sparkling vampires.

This is the first book I’ve set in the real world—mostly real, at least—and part of the fun was working various Michigan settings into the book. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find in the pages of Libriomancer.

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MIND MELD: Monarchies in Fantasy

UPDATED to include a response from Delia Sherman

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Very often, in secondary world fantasy novels, the default political setup is to have a Monarch of some sort, often one that acts in a seemingly autocratic manner. Many times, this Monarch rules by some sort of divine right or providence.

Q: Why are kingdoms with monarchs the default political setup in many secondary fantasy world novels? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such political structures? What are some exceptions to this?
Mark Charan Newton
Mark Charon Newton is the author of the Legends of the Red Sun series. He is also a Whisky addict. Find out more about him at Markcnewton.com

When people create worlds, we only really have our own world for reference, or from which to glean conscious and subconscious influences. Kingdoms, empires, monarchs – that’s all human history has pretty much known. Even today, we’re under the illusion we have democracy, but it’s much more wishy-washy than true ancient Athenian democracy, where power was genuinely more equally distributed, and more citizens played a role in the functioning of society. Today our monarchs and empires now are largely trade-based hegemonies, imperial campaigns given the spin of delivering peace through drone bombings. We are now subject to political and financial kings and queens (well, strictly speaking, in the UK we’re still subjects to the queen, but hey).

So in one sense, that’s life. That’s all we’ve ever known.

Emphasizing this point, many fantasy writers tend to look towards history, consciously or otherwise, for inspiration. Given that, aside from moments in the ancient world, there are very few examples where there are not kingdoms and empires, it’s inevitable.

There’s a wonderful season of Shakespeare on the BBC at the moment, which is hammering the point that I think still lingers today, and that’s a fascination with those who hold ultimate power. The pressures. The mental state. The sheer audacity to rule. Holding a position of god on earth. It is the biggest stage in a nation. So what does that do to an individual? What does that do to their mind? Can they ever be truly human? Such questions continue to inspire fantasy writers today. We’re very much interested in that big stage and what it means when ordinary people connect with it in some way.

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TOC: ‘Sister of the Hedge & Other Stories’ by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines has posted the table of contents for his new collection Sister of the Hedge & Other Stories:

  1. “Sister Of The Hedge”
  2. “In The Line Of Duty”
  3. “Heart Of Ash”
  4. “Bloodlines”
  5. “Images Of Death”
  6. “Ours To Fight For”

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