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I've spent the better part of the last two weekends marking a Masters dissertation. It's on modern fantasy, specifically Stephen Erickson, who I hadn't read before and am very glad to have read now. (Probably more on him in a future post, when I've ploughed through more Malazan). The thesis makes some good points, but its sense of contemporary fantasy is rather limited; it argues that Erickson's gritty, realistic, non-romance-based world and plot is a ground-breaking departure from the classical fantasy genre.

The thing is, it isn't. The epic fantasy genre has been breaking madly away from heroic stereotypes for decades. Stephen Donaldson does it. Terry Pratchett does it. George R R Martin does it. There's a whole new crop of fresh works by China Miéville, Joe Abercrombie, Richard Morgan, Lev Grossman, which are gleefully standing the genre and its heroes on their heads. These days there's a well-defined and vociferous sub-set of epic fantasy which is resolutely postmodern, dammit.

And I find myself looking at that list and thinking, hang on, those are all men. What's with that? Is the postmodern mickey-take on heroic fantasy strictly a masculine thing, or am I just not thinking of the examples of female writers who do it? I suppose you could count Elizabeth Bear's Iskryne, but it's not strictly epic. So either there's an intrinsic testosterone component to postmodern deconstruction of heroic tropes (or, in fact, there's an intrinsic testosterone component to heroic dudes swinging swords on an epic scale) or my memory is playing up even more than usual. Who am I not thinking of, female fantasy-deconstruction-wise? Help out my fatigued and rapidly deteriorating brain.

Subject line, of course, courtesy of Goats. Read Goats. It'll put hair on your chest. Surreal, wayward hair.
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Oh, lord. Stv lent me his Best of Nouvelle Vague CD, and my Sunday morning is currently rendered delightful by Depeche Mode covered bossanova-style. It's giving me the giggles. Genre-bending self-consciously ironic postmodern re-interpretation ftw. Also, yet another Loot order. Sigh. But they cover "Bela Lugosi's Dead"! How can I not?

I am doing Random Linkery, just because. Also, because the Hobbit is currently asleep with his paw and head on my left wrist, nodding gently as I type, and I suspect his presence is accounting for the cat-heavy inclination of the linkage.

  • This has to be staged. It's clearly a cynical Hollywood propaganda attempt to assist and focus the currently rather random and diverse rise of a young star. James Franco: actor, poet, artist, English Masters student, and asleep with kittens. I mean, please.

  • Courtesy of [ profile] strawberryfrog, the cat/human social contract. "A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other's inclinations and preferences." Like the interplay where Hobbit, asleep on my wrist, has just woken up, bitten me, licked me lovingly, and then gone back to sleep. I feel... confused and slightly betrayed, but affectionate, which come to think of it is the characteristic of a lot of my actual romantic relationships, anyway. Hmmm.

  • Not about cats, as I attempt to re-assert my individuality in the face of relentless feline control. Instead, superheroes! Mightygodking talks about the sigificance of Superman. Excellent post; the ones on Lex and Lois are also worth following through.

Now I shall go back to my Sunday morning quest, which is to discover a good, free, desktop media player which isn't Windows Media Player and which doesn't attempt to infest my hard-drive with advertising gumph as a condition of download. (VLC Player and ClickPotato, I'm looking at you with considerable disfavour). Anyone have any recommendations? It transpires that the weird distort I'm getting from my speakers is purely and simply about WMP, everything is playing perfectly through Media Player Classic, but it's a bit minimalist and doesn't seem to show playlists.

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