Apart from my activism and social justice studies, I am a major geek—not a tech geek; a genre geek. Science fiction/fantasy is my beat: literature (on audiobook if I can get it), movies, TV, and very occasionally video games.
My biggest fandom is actually Star Wars, which I was first introduced to when I was five or six years old. I have somewhat controversial views on the films (in that I love the prequels to the exact same extent that I love the original trilogy), and raging hatred for <i>The New Jedi Order: Star by Star</i>, <i>Legacy of the Force</i>, and the <i>Legacy</i> comics. I happen to feel that (at least where the Star Wars universe is concerned) killing off good main characters exponentially damages the value of the story. I just barely accepted Chewbacca’s death at the beginning of <i>New Jedi Order</i>, but Anakin Solo’s <i>Star by Star</i>, Mara Jade Skywalker’s in <i>Legacy of the Force: Sacrilege</i>, and Darth Shallow-Imitation-Vader’s in <i>Legacy of the Force: Insipid</i> were massively out of line, and they severely detract from my enjoyment of <i>any</i> Star Wars media at this point. (Also, if the nickname wasn’t already a big enough hint, I found Jacen Solo’s fall to the Dark Side incredibly stupid and completely out of character.) … I dislike the <i>Legacy</i> comics because they fix the future of the original trilogy characters ahead of time; because the future they fix is so bleak, where all the heroes’ accomplishments have been swept away less than a century later; and because the main characters on their best days just barely qualify as mediocre, and the protagonist in particular is an unlikeable git. At this point, it’s very much a love/hate relationship I have with the Star Wars franchise, though remarkably, not because of anything George Lucas has done directly. I’m probably one of that minority of people in the world who still sincerely wishes Lucas would get around to making that sequel trilogy already. If he ends up rendering <i>Star by Star</i>, <i>Legacy of the Force</i> and their ilk non-canon in the process, so much the better.
One of the good things to come out of my association with the Star Wars Expanded Universe though was my introduction to science fiction writer Timothy Zahn. He’s got his issues, to be sure, and he rarely wades into deep emotional or intellectual territory—his strengths as a writer are good characterization, strong complex plots, use of characters’ creativity in problem-solving, and easy readability. Outside of his Star Wars work, my favorite Zahn books that I’ve read so far are <i>The Icarus Hunt</i>, a standalone sci-fi mystery; and the Quadrail series, a multi-volume sci-fi noir/action thriller.
Around the same time I first got into Star Wars, my father read me <i>The Hobbit</i>, and later the <i>Lord of the Rings</i> trilogy, and I’ve been hooked on that, too. It’s deeply problematic in many respects, but I still love the story, the characters, and the sense Tolkien manages to evoke of Middle Earth as a real place with real history—something I’ve rarely if ever encountered to such a profound degree in other writers’ work. I adore the Peter Jackson films (also not perfect) and am giddily excited for his adaptation of <i>The Hobbit</i>.
My third major fandom is the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, along with the non-Discworld book <i>Good Omens</i> he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. Pratchett’s writing is hysterical, his characterization marvelous, his plots brilliant (at their best—at their worst they’re tolerably good), and he often tackles some pretty weighty philosophical issues with a substantial degree of sophistication (he sometimes lapses into just being didactic, but that’s the exception, not the rule). Sometimes, his stories can also be deeply touching.
My latest big fandom is Doctor Who. My favorite episodes are pretty much all from the new series, but my favorite Doctor is the fifth (played by Peter Davison), followed by the second (Patrick Troughton), followed by the Seventh (Sylvester McCoy), with the Fourth (Tom Baker, a perennial favorite) and Tenth (David Tennant) tying for fourth, and the first (William Hartnell) a mere step behind. I don’t actively dislike the others (well, maybe Colin Baker and Christopher Eccleston occasionally), I just don’t like them as much. I won’t discuss the show too much here, as I have reams of material already written about it which I’ll probably report from my livejournal account at some point.
I’m into numerous other fandoms, but those are my top four, and after them it’s a considerable step down to the next batch. I have two more fiction writers whose output (or some fraction thereof) I greatly enjoy.
The first is the late British young adult fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones. I first came across her work in <i>Dark Lord of Derkholm</i>, which was inspired by her spoof travel guide <i>The Tough Guide to Fantasyland</i>. My other favorites among her work include <i>Howl’s Moving Castle</i>, and some of the “Chrestomanci” books (<i>Charmed Life</i>, <i>The Lives of Christopher Chant</i>, and <i>Conrad’s Fate</i>, to be exact.) She doesn’t write down to her readers at all, and I love how wonderfully complex her plots can get, and many of her stories are delightfully imaginative. That said, I find the quality of her works to be very uneven, and some of them—like the last one I read, <i>A Tale of Time City</i>—are just plain boring.
My most recent amazing discovery is an Australian young adult fiction author named Melina Marchetta. I’ll be posting my own reflections on highlights from her work soon enough, but I’ll get you started with the review which first introduced me to her (<a href=”http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-384“><i>On the Jellicoe Road</i> review</a>), and another from the same site of her first fantasy novel (<a href=”http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-491”><i>Finnikin of the Rock</i> review</a>). Apart from her awesome plots and characterization, Marchetta writes on a level which provokes the deepest emotional responses I’ve encountered in any work of fiction, bar none. (Rage at the people behind <i>Star by Star</i> and <i>Legacy of the Force</i> for ruining my favorite fandom doesn’t count.)
So yeah, I consume an awful lot of speculative fiction; I also produce a little of it, and hope to do more as time passes. I’m still a fledgling writer at this point, but I intend to keep pushing forward and eventually get some of my stories published and disseminated publicly.
In the meantime, I write reviews and reflection pieces, most of them related to genre fiction. I expect such material to take up somewhere between 80% and 98% (give or take %1.8) of my posts to this account.
I’ll be back with that … at some point, but I think I’ve now said enough for one day. Catch you later.