Saturday Snippet 27th of September

Saturday SnippetWelcome to the Saturday Snippet! This is a bi-monthly column, normally posted every other Saturday, where I and others post bits and pieces from whatever we’re writing at the moment, at various stages of completion. If you would like to join us, there’s a linkup at the bottom of this post, where you can add a link to your own blog post, or post in the comment section. There are only three rules: Link back here, only post your own writing, and have fun!

Today’s delayed snippet is yet another beginning. I have picked it up every now and again, with the intention of continuing it, but I’ve never found the right story for it. I’ve never found the right main characters either, for that matter. But I do love the setting, and someday I will find that little piece that makes everything fit together. This part of it is just a description, really, and all I know is that the place is deserted and extremely dangerous, but that also makes it a safe place to hide something important, and sometimes people will come to steal that important thing. Whether this trio has good or bad intentions… That remains to be seen.

This story started, as many others before it, on a dark and stormy night. But it was neither in an old, creepy mansion nor a small, derelict cottage. In fact there was a distinct lack of houses in the area. There were ruins, of course, overgrown with moss and torn down by the winds, and they provided poor shelter on a night like tonight.

Three people were huddled together by the tallest of the walls, wrapped in sodden blankets and sitting as close to each other and the wall as they could. It was a flat land with no natural shelter against the wind, and no shelter also meant no fire. Might be for the best – being discovered by the few creatures who lived on this plain meant a slow, painful, agonising end.


Others who wrote a Saturday Snippet this week:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten “Older” books you don’t want people to forget

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list related to books and reading. This time the topic is Top Ten “Older” books you don’t want people to forget about – everything from real oldies to books that aren’t really old, just… not new anymore.

1. Elizabeth Moon: The Deed of Paksenarrion. This series is kind of cheating, since she, after a very, very long break, now has started to write another series that kind of continues where Deed of Paksenarrion left off. It’s one of the first fantasy series that I read, and it’s still one of my favourites.

2. Katharine Kerr: Deverry. This is an either-you-like-it-or-you-really-don’t type of series. The plot takes place in several different temporal levels, but for me it definitely worked. Back when I discovered fantasy, a Norwegian publishing house had a few years where they translated the big series into Norwegian. Over time it wasn’t as profitable as they wished, so they quit, but this was one of the series that made the cut.

3. David Eddings: The Belgariad. OK, it’s full of cliches. But the characters are compelling, and cliches weren’t really cliches when the books were written. It was perhaps one of the series that started the “innocent farm boy is really king/sorcerer/the saviour of the world” trope, but it’s also a wonderful comfort read and highly entertaining.

4. Peter V. Brett: The Painted Man. It’s a while since book 2 came out, and there’s no release date as of yet for book 3, but this book can’t really be mentioned too many times. It’s awesome. It’s original, well-written and proves that a medieval fantasy setting can be done in a fresh and completely new way.

5. Sergei Lukyanenko: Night Watch. Some years ago, when the Russian movie came out, this series was quite popular, I think – but now the attention seems to have died down. These books should not be forgotten. They are dark and gloomy but very, very good.

6. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Good Omens. I think I’ve said it for every book on this list, but it’s awesome, hilarious and, well, very, very entertaining.

I couldn’t come up with more than 6. There are probably more, but those that I most of all don’t want people to forget aren’t really in any danger of being forgotten at all, so there’s no point in mentioning them.

What’s your list?

This book is like Other Famous Book, only…

I’m fairly sure most readers have been annoyed by them at times. In blurbs, in reviews, in presentations of books, pretty much everywhere a book is described or recommended there is that typical sentence: “This book is like <other, very popular book>, only with X instead of Y.” I can see the point of comparing them with other books, of course, as it makes it easier to relate for the prospective reader. But wouldn’t it have to be a point to make them somewhat accurate?

One infamous example for me was the Night Watch books by Sergei Lukyanenko. Its front cover boasts a quote from a review in Daily Telegraph, which says “JK Rowling, Russian style… [A] cracking read.” While I wholeheartedly agree with the last part of the quote – Rowling? Really? The style is different, the setting is very different, the mood is different and darker, there’s a completely different audience, I could go on. The only similarities are 1. That there is a male main character, 2. That the setting is modern, our world, with the premise that there is a magic community that most people don’t – and shouldn’t – know about, and 3. That there is some kind of battle between good and evil. But of a completely different kind and outlook. This is by far not the only example.

Since I have had a stay-in-bed kind of day today I did some thinking about these types of comparisons, and came up with some general rules. Of course this is not meant as any kind of exhaustive list, only a few not-so-serious tendencies. Note that I haven’t included any SF, as I read so little of it, and that the rules only goes for comparisons in mainstream media.

The rules

1. If it involves someone learning magic, particularly if s/he is young, it is Harry Potter.
2. If it involves sorcery in a modern setting, it is Harry Potter (Harry Dresden or Rivers of London, anyone?)
3. If it does not involve sorcery but otherwise has a modern setting, it’s Twilight.
4. In fact, any and all urban fantasy and paranormal romance is either Harry Potter or Twilight, depending on whether or not there’s sorcery and/or vampires.
5. If there’s vampires, werewolves, ghosts, angels, faeries, changelings, demons and such, it’s Twilight.
6. If it involves romance, particularly love triangles (which means 99% of all romantic plots), it’s Twilight.
7. If it involves magic schools it’s always Harry Potter, no matter the rest, except if said school is a vampire school… sometimes.
8. If it is written either for or about children it will always be Harry Potter or Narnia.
9. If it is epic fantasy published before the HBO show Game of Thrones it will be compared to Lord of the Rings.
10. If it is epic fantasy published after Game of Thrones it is A Song of Ice and Fire.
11. If it contains elves, dwarves
and so on, it is Lord of the Rings.
If it’s a dystopy, it’s Hunger Games.
13. …unless it’s got vampires, werewolves, ghosts or angels – then it’s Twilight
14. …or magic, then it’s Harry Potter.
15. Any and all speculative fiction in a modern setting is, by rule, either Harry Potter, Twilight or both.
16. Any speculative fiction in the past is A Song of Ice and Fire if it’s gritty or without many fantastic elements, Lord of the Rings if it has the aforementioned elves or dwarves, if it’s deus ex machina, if there is a lot of travelling, and if there is a very specific and without a doubt evil villain. Except if any of the above involves learning magic, then it is Harry Potter, or there are werewolves and vampires, then it’s Twilight.
17. Anything in the future that is not very visibly science fiction is Hunger Games.
18. If there are dragons, it’s Eragon.
19. If it’s even remotely funny it’s either Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams.

20. If it is a parody or does not fully make sense it’s either Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams.
21. If it is published before Harry Potter, it is always Lord of the Rings, even if it’s nothing alike, as long as it is either fantasy or in a fantasy world.

Got any additions?