Why are aristocratic forms of government so common in fantasy? Is it because so much fantasy is set in faux-medieval countries and polities, and so kings, dukes, countesses and their ilk are the expected and anticipated methods in which a country is going to be ruled? It is true that for much of human history, for a large proportion of the glove, large complex societies have tended toward a hierarchical social pyramid, often with a single figure, or a small group of figures, on top.

From a literary standpoint, though, a limited number of political actors offer enormous advantages for writers and their readers. A democracy or republic would mean a cavalcade of characters for the writer create and depict, not only as political actors, but simply as characters. Even a novel completely and utterly focused on the sausage-making of political decisions would be unreadable if the author had to detail 300 electors in the course of the plot. Attempts at simplification of republican politics in novels and stories usually mean collapsing factions and political alignments to a few key actors that can be explored–which returns us to a de facto aristocratic form of government. In other words, we return to Kingdom Politics and the limited number of characters that ultimately matter.
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The final installment of my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List, is finally here, revealing the top ten. You can find  the individual posts as they were posted #41-50 here,  #31-40 here,  #21-30 here, and #11-20 here.  For those who just want to get to the Top Ten already I’ve listed that first.  For ease of reference, I’ve also included the entire list of fifty at the bottom of the post so if you want to refer people to the list, you can just link here.

These are (my opinion of) what is the best of the best, the most epic of the most epic.  Load them all up and have an awesome road trip, or ration them out over months of liistening.

I would love if other fiction podcast fans would comment here and say what their own favorites are and why.

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This is my third installment of my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List, covering #21-30. You can find #41-50 here and #31-40 here.  This is the middle list of the five pack–just two more to go!  I hope some of you are tuning in and listening to them all–would make for an epic road trip (though many of the stories are not suitable for children so probably not a whole family road trip).

Please comment, follow along, share this list with your friends.
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Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette on The Functional Nerds Podcast

Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette, author of The Goblin Emperor, joins John Anealio and Patrick Hester this week on The Functional Nerds Podcast.

Listen below, or at The Functional Nerds, or subscribe to The Functional Nerds Podcast through iTunes.

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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from Sarah Monette! – Sarah Chorn

Sarah Monette was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. She studied English and Classics in college, and have gone on to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature. Her novels are published by Ace Books; She also has a collaboration with Elizabeth Bear, A Companion to Wolves, from Tor. Her short stories have appeared in lots of different places, including Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Alchemy,Weird Talees, and Strange Horizons. She collects books, and her husband collects computer parts, so their living space is the constantly contested border between these two imperial ambitions. Her recent book, The Goblin Emperor, has been published through Tor books under the name Katherine Addison.

About Albinism

By Sarah Monette

When I moved to Madison for grad school in 1996, one of the first things I organized was an appointment with an ophthalmologist. I’d had bad eyesight all my life, and I expected to need a letter from an ophthalmologist to get my driver’s license, since I did–and still do–routinely fail the DMV’s eye exam. (As it turned out, I failed and they gave me a license anyway, which I find honestly kind of alarming.) So I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Ophthalmology. They dilated my eyes, the ophthalmologist (who I later learned was the department chair) took a look, and said, “Wow. You’re blonde all the way back, aren’t you?”

And that’s how I was diagnosed with albinism.
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Everyone loves a good bad guy, so we asked this week’s panelists the following:

Q: Who are the best bad guys in science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror literature?

Read on to see the responses…

Cecelia Dart-Thornton

Australia author Cecilia Dart-Thornton was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, graduating from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. She became a schoolteacher before working as an editor, bookseller, illustrator and book designer. She started and ran her own business, but became a full-time writer in 2000 after her work was ‘discovered’ on the Internet and published by Time Warner (New York). Her novels include The Bitterbynde Trilogy (The Ill-Made Mute, The Lady of the Sorrows, and The Battle of Evernight), and The Crowthistle Chronicles (The Iron Tree, The Well of Tears, Weatherwitch, Fallowblade) among others.

For me the best bad guy (aside from Tolkien’s Morgoth and Sauron) is Tanith Lee’s ‘Azhrarn the Beautiful, Prince of Demons, Master of Night, one of five Lords of Darkness.’ While reading Lee’s Flat Earth series you can’t help loving him and hating him simultaneously. He can be totally despicable, yet frequently you find yourself on his side. Such ambiguity is refreshingly intriguing!

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