Science Fiction Turned into Fact

Fascinating information here. First that China has opened it’s doors to the Sci-Fi genre but also how the genre has predicted many things , long before they actually happened.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Readers of my blog may have noticed my love of science fiction.  I loved reading as a child, even if I could not explain the thrill I felt when reading Jules Verne’s or HG Wells’ works.

I recently felt vindicated in my love of the genre, when I read the following comment by Neil Gaiman on The Guardian:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the…

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Manga Comics

Just a quick post.

The UK paper, The Guardian, has posted an article on its website about the rise of manga and their recommendations of which ones people should start with. I agree with these and say if you like the anime of a series, it would be worth looking up the manga too. You can find the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2014/feb/03/manga-top-ten-teens

Are witches becoming popular again?

Cover of "The Worst Witch (Young Puffin S...

Cover via Amazon

Okay, this is probably going to be at odds with other articles you will see around the web but a couple of days ago, I came across a Guardian article talking about witchcraft and witches returning to popular culture in the wake of the Vampires and Werewolves trend. You can read it for yourself here.

The article mentions that various US television networks are starting to show different shows with witch protagonists, suggesting that this is the place that the trend is showing the strongest.

The only thing I took from it originally (it was late at night when I first read it) was the fact that Jill Murphy had published a new Worst Witch book. Not really surprising since she has released new books in the series recently however I did not recognise any of the other books or authors mentioned.

Today, I went to my local Waterstones and as I was browsing and picking up a book (or four!), I found myself unconsciously looking for books about witches. The result? I saw nothing to vindicate The Guardian’s article. I realise it is probably a trend that is just starting to find its feet but if there is a rising interest in books and other media about witches, why can’t I seem to see or find media about witches? Even in HMV, when looking, I couldn’t find anything about witches, not even on the shelves they had set aside for Halloween.

This evening, I returned to the article in question and re-read it. The result was the same. I decided to do some digging and had a look at the Waterstones and WH Smith websites in their best sellers generic listings and the best sellers for fantasy. Nothing.

The only patterns I could find was that vampire books are still popular and other authors, who had always been popular, like Terry Pratchett and Ben Aaronovitch, were still up there in the best sellers lists. A look on Orbit UK, Puffin and Gollancz future publishing schedules show none of this supposed trend. All I found was the tail end of the vampires craze and new books from established authors and series. (This is generalised I hasten to stress!)

So it has got me thinking about whether witches are becoming popular again or if, actually, witches (and wizards) had always been popular in their own way and had never really gone away?

I feel it is a valid question to ask.

A very brief survey of some of my friends from NaNoWriMo (just over 24 hours away!)  revealed that they thought that has been a small rise in popularity but it could easily be an offshoot to the vampires craze. Also, confirming what I suspected, was the fact that paranormal creatures and beings had never really gone out of style. It’s just that the focus of attention shifts.

Cover of "Harry Potter and the Philosophe...

Cover of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

The article mentions Charmed from the late 1990’s and that got me thinking about the fact that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in 1997, during the same time period. The Harry Potter series has gone from strength to strength and continued being popular long after the end of witches popularity. The series has been so popular it has spawned spin-off books, a film series, a theme park and many other types of merchandise and not least of all, the recent news of JK Rowling wanting to return to the world of Potter and start writing a new spin-off series.

In the adults market, Ben Aaronovitch has gained success with his Peter Grant novels, featuring a London police officer and the country’s only remaining wizard. As well as them, there has also been Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus novels. These are just two series that I read that feature wizards and witches (though in Jacka’s books, they are known as mages).

Then there are the popular Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, the only wizard in the phone book. These books are on my to read list and Butcher has recently released a new book in the series.

So books about witches and wizards have always been popular, bubbling away beneath the hubbub of the vampire’s (and werewolves) craze. They sell and create series. Jacka has talked about this in his most recent blog post. He is talking about urban fantasy books in general but his comments are correct: “For every Sookie Stackhouse or Dresden Files, there are twenty or thirty urban fantasy series that fizzle out” (Jacka, Benedict. (2013). Alex Verus: The Future (Continued). [Online]. Available at http://benedictjacka.co.uk/2013/10/25/alex-verus-the-future-continued/).

So maybe witches are not becoming popular again as suggested in the Guardian article but instead the spotlight and attention is being shifted to a new type of character within the fantasy genre. Whilst talking with my friends about this, I had the thought that perhaps that maybe the reason I had not seen much in the way of different media having prominent witch characters is that perhaps we are just on the cusp of a new craze. I put this theory to them and they agreed that perhaps, that is the case.

I think that is my theory then. We are on the cusp of a new craze, a craze that is just starting to spread its wings. The interest in these types of books and stories have always been there but it’s now going to experience a new resurgence and people are just beginning to notice.

Or perhaps, it’s just something that is going to fizzle out to nothing.

 

National Poetry Day, October 3rd

As well as posting an A-Z list for sick book lovers, The Guardian has also posted an article about National Poetry Day, which is today! Have a local at the article here.

National Poetry Day is the celebration of the art of writing poetry and pushing the belief that poetry is for everyone, everywhere. I am atrocious at writing poems, especially when it comes to making it rhyme but, in a related art (in my opinion), I am all right at writing song lyrics, or so I have been told.

I should probably start trying to write poetry again as I believe that it is a skill that requires a great amount of finesse and skill to craft a well-written poem, even more so than other types of writing. I also think that the skill of poetry writing is important to the high fantasy genre, a type of writing I seem to have fallen into writing as of late. JRR Tolkien, who is famous for his love of words and great epic poems, used them to great effect in all of his work in Middle Earth. His work is considered the benchmark which every other book in the genre is held to.

I actually think I definitely should practise writing poems as a precaution as it seems I could potentially be writing in the high fantasy genre for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in November.

An A-Z of Novel Cures for Ailing Book Lovers

Deutsch: logo der tageszeitung the guardian

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Guardian has offered a list of literary cures for such ailments and feeling like Boredom, Hiccups and even Man Flu! You can find the article here.

Books are great for dealing with some illnesses and I have posted before about how books are being prescribed to help people by the NHS. Books can help people in so many ways, such as helping them with dealing with their illnesses.

For me, when I am down, bored and need a pick-me-up, I often turn to comedy and humour books, such as Texts from Dog by October Jones (the second book, Dog Delusion, is out 24th October!).

Banned Books Week: Why Do We Ban Books?

I was going to do a piece on the representation of women in modern media, focusing on fictional texts, today however, after going on the Guardian newspaper website, I decided to do something about the concept of Banned Books instead. Not least because I have a feeling I will need to do a lot of research for the representation article.

I had never heard of Banned Books Week until last year but it was only this year have I actually looked into what the week was about. Though it is fairly obvious, Banned Books Week is the annual right to read celebration from the American Libraries Association. It celebrates the books that have been banned for various reasons.

For me, it has amused me finding out which books are banned and why. Some books which have been challenged, like the Captain Underpants books, are just laughable. Apparently the books are inappropriate for children of a certain age and due to the language. Other books, like E.L. James‘s 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, I can understand a bit more. I don’t think I need to go through the reasons why, though sadly none of the reasons are about the dismal writing.

Sex is a frequent reason as to why books are banned but I’m curious about why someone would want to ban a book in the first place. I agree with a quote by Isaac Asimov, an author, who said, “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” Now, I know there will be certain subjects and themes, like pedophilia and bestiality, that would raise objections and I understand them, but my question, why do we ban books?, comes from the fact that even in our modern age, books like And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, have been challenged due to its homosexual themes.

Now, if this had been a book released in the past, when homosexuality was viewed as anything but normal and even when it was a criminal offence, then yes, I could perhaps understand. But no, this book was released in a modern world, in countries which accept homosexuality. The book was inspired by 2 male penguins hatched and raised a chick in a New York Zoo.

Personally, I don’t understand why people would want to ban books, especially ones like the aforementioned book, especially when they are children’s books. Surely And Tango Makes Three would be a good way to introduce concepts like homosexuality to children. It is part of society and part life.

If we want to help people in general to become better people, to expand their horizons and create an even better society than what we have now, reading is a fantastic way to do it and books are brilliant ways of introducing these sorts of concepts and ideas.

Is Britain the World’s Creative Capital?

Okay, I am now just starting to procrastinate enough to avoid working on my Word Count (wc) and yet not be distracted enough to forget it.

On LinkedIn, I have Sir Richard Branson on my Influencers list so I get articles from time to time from Virgin. Not written by him but still…

Anyway, today on my Updates Stream, I received this article: http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/blog/is-britain-the-worlds-creative-capital. This is something I have considered true for many years and is part of the reason I went to university to do a Professional Writing degree. I have often seen articles on the BBC News website, the Daily Mail, the Guardian and various other news outlets saying and giving examples of how the British Creative and Media sectors are some of our biggest exports in the world. They are also arguably the toughest to get into and find consistent employment in.

I don’t really have much to say on this matter but I sincerely just wanted to share this article with you all.