Confessions of an Audiobook Convert

Image: iPhone with Headphones on Bookshelf

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be looking forward to mundane things like morning commutes and chopping onions, solely because that meant I could binge on an audiobook… well, I wouldn’t have told you you were crazy, but I’d probably have nodded and smiled and filed you away in the weird person trying too hard to sell me something category. I’d have maybe agreed to give the whole “listening to a book” thing a try, but it would have been grudgingly and with scepticism.

In fact, I’d say I had a definite prejudice against audiobooks, even though I’d never listened to one. Why? As an aspiring author, I’d started going to readings.

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The ‘Ye Olde’ in Epic Fantasy: 6 More Archaisms and Why Authors Use Them

Image: Beowulf Manuscript First Lines

First Lines of BeowulfWikimedia

Last week I listed some English archaic forms often seen in epic fantasy novels: things like “here be dragons” and “unsavoury louts they were” and “prithee”. This week I’m continuing with a few more ‘ye olde’ words fantasy authors like to throw into the mix, as well as having a look at why they do it.

So without further ado, and again with the help of Susan Mandala’s Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Question of Style, here are the remaining 6: Continue reading

The ‘Ye Olde’ in Epic Fantasy: 5 Archaisms Explained

Here Be Dragons Map

The other day I found myself explaining the word ‘wont’ to someone. Not the contraction ‘won’t’, but rather its apostrophe-less unrelated twin:

Wont
adjective: accustomed, used, given, inclined. e.g. “As he was wont to do”
— New Oxford American Dictionary

In other words, the one almost no-one usesI believe I was attempting to add a vaguely historical flourish to a comment I was making. Unfortunately the person I was speaking to was German, and wont turned out to be a word they hadn’t yet added to their English vocabulary (can’t blame them really).

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Lightsabers and Blackouts

Image: lightsaber

We almost look forward to power outages in my house, because we have a tradition.

It started a couple of years ago. A thunderstorm plunged large parts of Brisbane into darkness for several hours. We’re in the subtropics here, so this is not unusual. Enthusiastic storms are always keen to down a few power lines. I’ve seen distinctly Independence Day-style cloud fronts roll toward my house, so dark and spattered with lightning that I felt sure the alien spaceship was going to burst through any second. Continue reading

The Battle of the Bookshelves

Bookshelves

Okay, it’s not really a battle. But when you look at the two bookshelves in my house – two identical IKEA monstrosities – there’s an obvious difference.

The one on the right is stuffed with autobiographies and memoirs and a myriad of non-fiction… books on economics and the Internet age and business and psychology and politics. Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom cosies up next to Jared Diamond’s Collapse, and a rather ominous book titled The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Continue reading

The Book Was Better: Watching vs Reading Fantasy

Harry Potter DVDs and Books

It’s not uncommon to hear people complain that a film didn’t do justice to the book it was based on. Maybe you’ve even been the person doing the complaining. I know I have.

Sometimes a film version of a book just flat-out disappoints. Sometimes it highlights all the wrong parts, or cuts out your favourite bits, or is badly acted, or poorly shot, or presents the climactic moments in a way that drains them of all tension. Of course on the flip side, some film renditions can be great, and there are several out there that have delighted fans.

However, my intention here is not to bemoan the flaws and strengths of various film adaptations. Rather, I’d like to acknowledge something that I think will always affect our reception of book-to-film adaptations: Continue reading

A Brief Note on the Value of Escapism

Image: Wooden Door Amongst VinesI spend a good portion of my day either reading books, writing books, listening to audiobooks, or watching TV shows and films. I occasionally ask myself if this is wasted time: time spent not living my own life. Should I be having more experiences out in the real physical world rather than in these imagined worlds in my head?

I was pondering this question again the other day, and rather than just dismissing it with my usual “of course it’s not wasted time, fiction is awesome! Escapism is awesome!” response, I thought I’d actually try to pinpoint what it is that makes me feel this way. Continue reading

Does Loving Epic Fantasy Make You a Monarchist?

Royal Mug

Okay, admittedly that seems like an odd question. But if you’ve ever stopped to think about the attitudes to royalty presented in fantasy stories, particularly epic high fantasies, it’s not so absurd. There is a very obvious bias toward royalty, and the idea that a person born into a role is the most rightful and qualified person to perform that role. Continue reading

Judging a Book by Its Name: 10 Common Trends in Fantasy Titles

Title Trends and Fonts (Orbit 2009)

Chart showing most frequent fantasy book titles and fonts in 2009, Orbit Books, http://www.orbitbooks.net/2010/08/19/the-chart-of-fantasy-art-part-4-title-trends/

People often talk about how difficult cover designs are to get right, and the role they play in selling books. Titles – the things plastered all over those covers – are a less frequent topic of discussion.

Given how responsive we are to images and colours, covers probably are more important. Still, if you’re online, or talking to other book lovers, sometimes the title is the only thing you see or hear. Continue reading

Do You Ever Think of the Scriptwriter When Choosing a Film?

Image: Writing

If you’re anything like me, when you are deciding which films you might like to see at the cinema or hire at home, the scriptwriter is not high on the list of things you factor in.

Perhaps you pay attention to the director, or you look at the actors, or maybe you just go on the premise or genre alone. Maybe you even factor in the studio (personally, I know I’ll watch anything Pixar brings out). Continue reading