Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Importance of Good Worldbuilding

If you’ve been reading Down the Stacks, you’ve probably come to the realization that one of the elements of fiction that I care the most about is worldbuilding.  A moving plot and interesting character dynamics are what most people look for in a story, but to my mind no plot or set of characters is complete without an interesting, well-knit world for them to inhabit and interact with.  A well-built world lends itself to further exploration by both the original author and fans, extending a story’s lifespan and providing fodder for discussions.  Worldbuilding also helps to liven up scenes so that the reader’s mental pictures are more than just talking heads on a blank background.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Down the Stacks #22: Horatio Hornblower

This week on Down the Stacks, I’m stepping out of the Science Fiction section of the library again to fulfill a promise I made to myself: to take a look at C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series.  After reading and reviewing two different sets of books inspired by Hornblower, I wanted to get back to the source and see how good it was.  Fortunately, my local library appears to care about Hornblower quite a bit, since I found the entire series on the shelf, and multiple copies of some volumes.  I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve got a good feeling about the series based on what I have read.
So, to borrow Honor Harrington’s catchphrase again, let’s be about it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Down the Stacks #21: Stone Spring

This week on Down the Stacks, I looked up Stephen Baxter, the co-author of Terry Prachett’s The Long Earth.  Baxter is an aid speculative fiction writer with a particular interest in alternative history.  The book I’ve selected for this week’s review is one of those alternate histories: Stone Spring, first entry in the Northland Trilogy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Down the Stacks #20: The Rithmatist

I had a different book planned for this week’s Down the Stacks, but as I sat down to write the review I decided I need to read more of the series before trying to comment on it.  Instead, I’m once again turning to my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson, for material.  This week’s Down the Stacks is the first and currently only entry in Sanderson’s newest young adult series: The Rithmatist.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Redeeming Little Miss Mary Sue: Appearances

Before we continue this exploration of redeeming Little Miss Mary Sue, I want to set down two rules to consider through the rest of this series:
  1. There are no character traits that are exclusive to Mary Sues; context and suspension of disbelief are  major factors in what a character can and can’t get away with.
  2. Characters in a story can get away with things the narration can’t.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Down the Stacks #19: The Long Earth

This week on Down the Stacks, we’ll be looking at the first entry in a sci-fi series written by the late Sir Terry Prachett in collaboration with Stephen Baxter, an accomplished science fiction writer I plan to look into in the future.  For now, though, stick a fresh potato in your Stepper and come with me as we explore The Long Earth.