Around the Common Room: July 13, 2012

Here’s a list that’s slightly less monstrous, having aggregated for only a week instead of a month. Never fear, though–it’s still packed with interest.

First, if you haven’t checked out Mythgard Institute, i

t’s worth a look and then some, as it offers college-level classes on medieval and fantasy literature (accreditation coming soon). Dr. Amy Sturgis has been teaching classes on Harry Potter, and on Saturday, September 1, she’ll be giving a “live, one-time only video lecture” titled “The Hunger Games and the SF Tradition.”

While we’re on The Hunger Games, the movie for Mockingjay is going to be split into two parts. Surprised, anyone?

Here’s a fascinating post: Lit Reactor’s Rob W. Hart on the question of whether–and what–series writers owe their fans. Does George R.R. Martin owe it to the world to spend every waking moment writing, in order to provide highest likelihood that he won’t die before finishing his series like Robert Jordan did? Or are fans too demanding in worrying, publicly and sometimes rather desperately, whether Martin has another six or seven years to write the last two books?

Now, something to warm every Hog’s Head regular’s heart: a couple of warm testimonials on the importance of fairy tales, fantasy and science fiction: Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s “Opening the Door to Imagination: My Discovery of Science Fiction and Fantasy“, and from Briana of the review blog Pages Unbound, posting at DebzBookshelf, “Why Fairy Tales Matter.” Says Briana: “Whether we personally rewrite or reread “Sleeping Beauty” or “The Little Mermaid” can reveal something about us as individuals. But that something will never be that we are trite.”

And while we’re talking things dear to the Hog’s Head and friends, here’s a post by Stan Szczesny on great books and the importance of discussion. He includes a superb summary of the principles of good conversation.

In other science fiction and fantasy news:

In general fiction:

And in the world of Harry Potter:

Happy reading!

4 thoughts on “Around the Common Room: July 13, 2012

  1. Hart’s post on what writers owe readers and Larbalestier take on bad books were especially fascinating. I agree with Hart that series writers don’t owe their readers speedy delivery of new installments, but they might owe their publishers — depending on the contract terms! That said, I do admire writers like JKR and Tolkien who seem to view themselves as having a responsibility to the world and characters they’ve created. However, this can only be an internally imposed obligation.

    There used to be a sort of implied obligation on the part of editors and publishers not to print garbage, even if it came from the pen of a recognized or genuinely talented author. But alas, gone are the days of great editors like Maxwell Perkins at Scribner, who cut 100 pages and reshaped Thomas Wolfe’s “O Lost” into the masterpiece “Look Homeward, Angel”. Bad books, especially when part of a successful series, seem to sell almost as well as good books, at least until the readers catch on– for which let’s cheer the tireless ranks of reviewers!

  2. Another fun set of links, Jenna–thanks!

    I wholeheartedly agree with Hana about Hart’s post on that topic. While I, too, get emotionally invested in a great series, I find it appalling that some fans get irate and even abusive about the pace of book releases. The desire for instant gratification and lack of sympathy for how much work it takes for writers to do their craft well are quite simply childish. No one can force (or cajole) another to create for him, and it often takes a substantial amount of time to produce something of high quality. I feel like telling any cranky fans, “Get off the dude’s back, and go create something wonderful of your own while you’re waiting.” (Okay, I’ll put my wagging finger back in its holster….)

    The links about the value of fairy tales and fantasy/sci-fi literature are sweet, brief, and to the point. It’s always heartening to see people pushing back on cynicism and reclaiming the grand place of possibility that those sorts of literature can play in our lives.

  3. Jenna Thanks for another great post. I am amazed at the abundance of material. This will surely keep me busy for quite some time.

  4. The Hufflepuff video was pretty interesting & funny. Since Lady Gaga is kind of a living parody, I think her works are best appreciated as parodies, & the creators of the video did a fantastic & detailed job. Always impressive to see the great amount of creativity & dedication possessed by Potter fans.

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