Book Review: The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier

23 Mar

A Princess seeking to escape the circumscribed nature of her life and the path set out for her. A Prince who strives to protect his land against an invasion and threat his small country has no capacity to stop. A tyrannical King whose plots and plans overwhelm them all. And a mysterious mountain of knowledge and power that is the key to all of them. It sounds on the face to be a standard fantasy setup with characters out of stock central fantasy casting that could be listed in Diana Wynne Jones’ THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND.

You can probably even predict how this sort of set up will go, on the old straight track. Prince saves the day, Princess is plucky, Father dies heroically and repents and recants on his deathbed, paving way for Prince to be the better successor. Simple and straightforward character beats and maybe if one is lucky, some character growth for Prince and Princess too. However, The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier avoids those well trod paths that might go with that sort of fantasy setup, and has a focus, tone and through line that is rather different and rather special. Continue reading

Retro Childhood Review: Firebrat

22 Mar

“It will only be for a month, Molly.”

“Why me?” she wailed, forgetting her vow of silence. “Why not Betty? She’s older.”

“Because I think you’ll do a better job than Betty. You’re the reader in this family. The storyteller… Your grandma’s getting awfully forgetful, Molly. Ever since Grandpa died, she’s been living in the past — she tells the same stories over and over. She needs someone who’ll talk to her and help her organize the shop. You know — keep her in touch with the present.”

Silence.

“Molly, you’re the one who doesn’t mind a little mess.” He waved his hand at her room. “You’re the lover of mysteries.”

“What’s the big mystery about taking care of Grandma?”

“Making people well is always a mystery,” said her father sadly.

I will forever be indebted to a family that both placed an importance on reading and not only understood how much I loved science fiction and fantasy, but encouraged it with gifts. For my eleventh birthday, my aunt and uncle sent me Firebrat, by Nancy Willard, with illustrations by David Wiesner. I don’t know how they decided on this particular book, but the whimsical cover of fish flying through a forest, showing a young girl and a young boy, with the girl in the lead probably had something to do with it. And where I have read and discarded a hundred other fantastical children’s books, Firebrat has kept its place firmly ensconced on every bookshelf that I have ever owned. Continue reading

#55. Attack the Block (2011) — A Shoot the WISB Subcast w/ Tiara W.

20 Mar

Aliens dog monsters, inner city shenanigans, and John Boyega, oh my! Our theme of inclusivity continues with this special episode of Shoot the WISB. Jen, David, Alex, and special guest star Tiara W. join forces to discuss 2011’s exceptional alien invasion film, Attack the Block. Needless to say, they love it!

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below): Continue reading

Book Review: Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

16 Mar

 

Disclosure: Alex Wells is a pseudonym of Alex Acks, co-host here at Skiffy and Fanty. I consider them a friend.

Hob Ravani is a member of a biker outfit on Tanegawa’s World. Tanegawa’s World is a hardscrabble place, a dry and desolate world that wouldn’t draw any interest, even from the Transrift corporation, save for its considerable mineral resources. Those resources, and those resources alone, make the desert planet valuable. It’s not Arrakis, but Tanegawa’s World is still a prize to the only corporation with the capacity to travel to the stars. Not even the Federal Union that ostensibly is the government of humanity and all of its worlds has the secret to their Rift drive.

And then there is the fact that some people who live on Tanegawa’s World are affected by the strange contaminants on the planet. It IS an alien world, after all, and humans and their works and creations are intruders upon it. Humans who live away from the filtered, protected city of Newcastle are exposed to the world. They can develop unusual, exotic powers, powers that are feared by the corporation, and everyone else on the planet for that matter.  People with this contamination gone feral, called witchiness by the locals, are a breed apart. People like Hob.

Hunger Makes the Wolf, the debut novel from Alex Wells, tells Hob’s story. Continue reading

The Intersection: Dear Horror Genre, Let’s Talk

15 Mar

Dearest Reader, I hope you don’t mind taking a side-quest into Horror today. Horror, as I see it, is related to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yes, it’s its own entity, but it’s related via Surrealism. Sometimes they’re so closely related that it’s difficult to separate one from the other. (See Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Attack the Block, Pitch Black, and Event Horizon to name a few.) I used to consume a great deal of Horror[1], but at a certain point I no longer felt safe or welcome — even as a viewer. So, I left it behind, but I think I may be wandering back in thanks to a number of new releases and well, a certain podcast that I’d also like to recommend. (Women in Caskets, I’m looking at you. :)) WiCs reminded me of how much I miss Horror, and of how much I’ve missed. Continue reading

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