Women are Not Cattle or Slaves

Kameron Hurley is a terrific fantasy author who wrote a great piece called ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative for the recently retired Dribble of Ink blog. I’m on record as questioning the fantasy genre’s marriage to redemptive violence, but Hurley does a masterful job of asking why fantasy—a genre that should, by definition, not be a slave to history—should have such a laughably simplistic (and historically inaccurate!) portrayal of women:

[W]omen did all sorts of things we think they didn’t do. In the middle ages, they were doctors and sheriffs. In Greece they were… oh, sod it. Listen. Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links, for those who desire “proof.” Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong.

The whole piece is genius. If you like fantasy as a genre, you owe it to yourself to read this.

The Lure of Imagination

If you spend a lot of time around the “I used to be evangelical but I’m much better now” church these days, you’ll hear a lot about the need to shape our imagination via liturgy and creativity. The essential point is that we need to allow the story of God expressed in Christ and testified to in the Scriptures to transform what we imagine to be possible in the world we live in.

I’m all for this—on a generic level. Our imaginations are largely held captive by the consumeristic complex in which we try to buy products that will hopefully associate us with the categories of hip, cool, desirable and to-be-envied. The type of imagination that the Gospel should engender within us is that another world is possible, and we should be trying much harder to cultivate that imagination.

As with all aspects of humanity, imagination is not without its pitfalls and temptations. I invite you to imagine with me for a moment your stereotype of a typical sci-fi geek, perhaps of the Trekkie variety. These are people who are so obviously living in a bizarre fantasy that they desperately want to be real. They may have themselves fooled, but not the rest of us.

These grossly stereotyped fantasy nerds do have one thing essentially right: they are clearly not placing their hope and trust within the ways of this world as it currently is. This is the hallmark of an apocalyptic imagination: that some day this world will be set to rights and another world of peace and justice will take its place. We Christians call this hope a new heaven and a new earth.

This apocalyptic imagination can, however, be lured into living within the mere imagination of another world rather than doing the hard work of beginning to live now as if the world to come is in some way really here. This is what Christian theology means when it tells us about the kingdom of God being both near and yet delayed. It requires both tremendous imagination and tenacity to live in the tension of the world to come being partly here but not fully realized.

It is too often the case, however, to choose one of two things that should be held together. I can easily think of those who work hard with no imagination, and those with well-developed imaginations who wouldn’t imagine doing anything practical to change the world around them. Although we live in a world filled with non-imaginative workers, I still hold that imagination without work devolves into a sad impotence.

We cannot be satisfied with either hard-headed pragmatists or esoteric fantasies. God, help us. What we need, in short, is a plethora of poet-activists. We need dreamers who are doers, and doers who are dreamers. I’m probably betraying my own captive imagination by leaving out vast swaths of important folk. We need people fully alive in their activities and imaginations. What we need is God.

God. Oh God, help us, your fragile servants.

Modern Magic

Last weekend we watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” with our neighbors. Watching how much Gandalf behaves as a “normal” person is curious for those of us who have read a lot of scifi/fantasy novels. The magic doesn’t play a central role in the story, and no magic “system” is evident. Magic is used rarely, reluctantly, and never particularly explained.

Conversely, most modern fantasy revels in making a system out of magic, turning it into a science in keeping with the modernistic fetish for explanations. The irony of all of this is, of course, that any magic worth the name is inexplicable. Indeed, one of the attractions of fantasy novels for modern peoples is the ability to inhabit a world that is still enchanted, but we still feel the need to disenchant it by making magic a “system!”

Oh, irony.

Wheel of Time to be Completed

I didn’t mention anything when I announced that Robert Jordan had died, but I was sure hoping that they would find a way to release the final book in his Wheel of Time book series, which was left incomplete at the time of his death. For those who care, I am happy to report that this will indeed happen:

Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish the final novel in Robert Jordan’s bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Robert Jordan, one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries, died September 16th after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

The new novel, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, will be the twelfth and final book in the beloved fantasy series which has sold over 14 million copies in North America and over 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers, and for over a decade fans have been eagerly awaiting the final novel that would bring the epic story to its conclusion.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan’s beloved wife and editor, said of her decision to have Sanderson complete the last book in The Wheel of Time series: “I have chosen Brandon Sanderson to complete Robert Jordan’s great work, and I am absolutely delighted that he accepted. I will of course be editing this book as I have all of the other books of The Wheel of Time.”

Source: Author chosen to finish the WHEEL OF TIME series

Twilight Falling Chapter 3

Although I haven’t been working on it very much lately (too busy), I thought that I’d post another draft chapter of Twilight Falling. I introduced you to Braeden and a mysterious stranger in a draft of chapter 1 (.pdf link).

Now here comes Chapter 3 (yes, I know that you’re missing Ch.2, but this is supposed to be a tease!), which introduces you to Karya, who should be an intriguing character!

Read: Twilight Falling (Ch.3, first draft) (.pdf link)

As always, comments, criticisms, and/or gratuitous adulation is more than welcome.

Twilight Falling

I mentioned a few posts back that I’d be doing some other writing, since my blog had come to dominate my writing. I’ve long harbored the (probably foolish) fantasy to write, well, fantasy novels. So, I’ve started to write one.

Here it is: Twilight Falling (Ch.1, first draft)

Oh, and there’s currently about 6 chapters, but they’re in need of some heavy revision.

Feel free to leave comments, criticisms, pleas for autographs…