June 01, 2007


Two things

1: I've been reading Steven Erikson's "Malazan Book of the Fallen" fantasy series recently. It follows the post-Jordan evolutionary branch of fantasy that states that under no circumstances shall a series structure be planned to involve less than, say, ten books.

I'm enjoying it, though, for a variety of reasons. Three books in (so basically the equivalent of the prologue, in High Fantasy writing conventions), and there's been a blessed lack of massive chunks of world-exposition. For the most part, the reader's just dropped straight in to this alien place and left to get his bearings by context. That's a lesson fiction in general can be improved by.

Also, it's the kind of setting where the opening action to the very first book is a siege on a city that culminates in waves of sorcerous power killing tens of thousands of soldiers in an instant. This kind of thing is a relatively commonplace event. It's big on spectacle. With all the coruscating magical attacks happening, it reminds me to an extent of a (much, much, much, much wordier version of the Lensman series (which I need to track down copies of and reread to get pulp back in my diet).

Also, it's demented. Its general tone is of a recap of an epic ten-year-plus tabletop roleplaying game, set in a GM's homebrew setting, with hefty doses of game-balance-be-damned plot protection, abuses of "flaws-vs-merits" rulesets for minmax purposes, and so forth.

But the single most wearying aspect of them is the apostrophes. Apostrophes in names. Apostrophes in place names. Apostrophes in proper nouns. Apostrophe apostrophe a'po'str'phe. What the hell is it with fantasy and some science-fiction writing that demands apostrophe abuse? Do editors tack on an extra royalty percentage point for every hundred apostrophes?

It actually shatters my immersion far more than plot contrivances and deus ex machina character resurrections and whatnot. Because it disrupts reading--when used non-possessively, the only way to really read such things is as glottal pauses; now, yes, there can be languages that involve many more such pauses than English, but when everything else is in English, that's a problem. It's only slightly less distracting than writing in colloquial modern English, but your "fantasy" vocabulary involving lots of ! marks to inexplicably include aboriginal tongueclicks.

So when I write an epic fantasy series some day (I'll plan it to span twenty books), I'm going to use ! marks in place of apostrophes. Also, terms from the requisite Elder Languages will be written entirely in the Wingdings fonts.

Moving on!

2: I have no interest in the television show mentioned here. My interest might be non-zero, but current scientific instruments do not have the necessary precision in order to detect it. I gather that it's some sort of vague update of the Red Dawn premise ("WOLVERINES!!!") only with the Red Menace replaced with terrorists, or more properly, terrists. (Turban Menace? Allah Threat? Catchy category names are sadly lacking in this area, which is sad given that it's been over 5 years for PR arms to really work at them.) That's probably both an unfair and inaccurate characterization. Wolverines.

But that's not the point. The point is, this campaign to protest the show's cancellation is great in its own right. 34,000 pounds of nuts have been sent in at last view.

So I think CBS should hire a bunch of temps to eat them as they get delivered, and to work on that backlog. A friend offered a further refinement of this idea which I approve of, namely that they could make that a reality-tv show entitled "Eat My Nuts!"

posted by Gar @ 10:17 AM
erikson uses apostrophes in parody, i guess. honestly, there cannot be any other reason :)

Jan Havlis
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