Today on Skiffy and Fanty, we have a guest post from Shanna Germain. Shanna is the author of myriad stories, books, and games, as well as the co-owner of Monte Cook Games. Her most recent works include Numenera: The Poison Eater, No Thank You, Evil!, and Torment: Tides of Numenera—an Explorer’s Guide.
The Importance of Grief in the Stories we Tell
Our movies, shows, and books often tell us a particular story about grief. It goes like this: two people are grieving about the same thing — the loss of a child, let’s say — and they grieve differently—one wants to talk about it and one doesn’t, let’s say. And this fundamental difference in how they grieve tore them apart. And eventually they excised that grief thorn and were able to move on. Maybe together, maybe apart. Continue reading
Tropes get a lot of bad press even as we crave them. People expect the Happily Ever After for a romantic comedy, but the fiftieth inevitable betrayal by the mentor in an action movie gets seen as being cliched. Movie after movie gets made, and makes box office, with a Chosen One, especially as an origin story, and at the same cry decry it as being more of the same. The website TV Tropes is a time suck, as one can get lost for hours following links on various tropes in movies, books and more, falling into a rabbit hole of storytelling conventions.
So what can be said that is new about tropes? How can they be used, subverted, and rearranged? Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, a diverse anthology and essay collection edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli, sets out to do just that. Continue reading
In the 1970s Brian Aldiss published a seminal anthology of SF stories. Called Galactic Empires, it was a two-volume set of over two dozen stories set in such realms, with authors ranging from Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Poul Anderson to A.E. Van Vogt and Clifford Simak. The age of the stories spanned from the 1940s to the 1970s, not only showing a wide range of themes and ideas revolving around Galactic Empires, their rises, heights and falls, but also showing the breadth of style changes in the genre over that period. It was not only a snapshot of the subgenre, right at the time that Star Wars was dominating the cinema and changing SF forever, but a look backward to the roots of the subgenre as well.
Now, in 2017, Neil Clarke has stepped into the very large shoes that Aldiss has left, and created his own anthology called Galactic Empires. Clarke’s collection of stories have the same remit as Aldiss’: To show the Galactic Empire, in all of its forms, and with a wide range of voices, styles and authors. Clarke’s choices all date from the 21st century. While this does mean that Clarke’s anthology misses the 1980s and ’90s, he does manage to capture more recent eras in glorious diversity. For all of how important the Aldiss anthology was and is, Aldiss’ general overlook of half of the SF field and having an entirely American/British viewpoint was a weakness in his anthology. Only one female author, Margaret St. Clair, was included in Aldiss’ two-volume collection. By comparison, out of the stories Clarke has gathered, nearly half are by women. Further, Clarke’s choices includes significant contributions from the likes of Yoon Ha Lee, Tobias Buckell, and Aliette de Bodard. Continue reading