Alex Marshall on "Like a Bosch"

A Blade for Black Steel00lastjuThis past spring a humble museum in a small Dutch city mounted the largest Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in history. Along with nearly half a million other acolytes, I made the pilgrimage to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, birthplace of the father of monsters. My way was snared with perils (I neglected to book tickets far enough in advance) but Providence cleared my path (the museum extended their hours, so I flew back to the Netherlands), and in the end I was given the keys to a garden of earthly delights (just not a key to the original Garden of Earthly Delights; the Prado won’t loan out Bosch’s most famous triptych, not even for an event of this magnitude). It was quite literally the event of a lifetime.

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SPFBO2: The First 24 Reviews!

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I've finished my first pass for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off!

I've read 3 chapters and/or 20% (whichever comes last) of 30 self-published books. I've picked six of those books for further reading and proper reviews. One of those will then go on to the FINAL ROUND in the BLOGGERDOME. It'll be awesome.

Below, you'll find a quick introduction, a not-so-quick spiel about reviewing self-published books and 24 short reviews.

Caution - this post is loooong.

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Breaking the Glass Slipper on "Writing Characters of the Opposite Gender"

Assassin's QuestAs humans living in the twenty-first century, I’d like to think we’ve come a long way towards achieving equality between the sexes and rejecting established notions of gender. But is it far enough? After all, we’re still having these debates, highlighting prejudice, challenging ourselves to ‘think outside the box’. If gender equality truly existed, there’d be no need to stage this conversation.

In fiction, men write women and women write men on a regular basis, some more or less successfully. Both genders ought to be able to relate to each other at the very least on an intuitive level without resorting to dangerous and unhealthy stereotypes. But, as Emma Newman recently discussed, there are still male readers who are hesitant to pick up a book authored by a woman, or featuring a female protagonist.

Why is that? Personally, I’ve never had a problem reading a book written from a male perspective; in fact the majority of epic fantasy I read growing up featured male protagonists. Why then are some readers unable or unwilling to relate to women?

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The Wnids of Wniter, Long Content, and Hatsune Miku

Wnids of Wniter

The Winds of Wniterr

Automated Fanfic generator! If you're tired of waiting for The Winds of Winter, here's my algorithmically generated conclusion:

Tyrion felt really dperessed one day. She had been slitting her wrists even more then normal. She had just found out that she was adopted. Her real parents turned out to be nobels from Europe. They had a upper class tower and were mighty richt! But she had none of that richness around. It made her feel pretty bad about herself so she listened to some good music.

But long she did not have to be depressed as Jon came in and kissed her in her special place (they had falled in love at the end of the story see). And she said: "I love oyu so much, it hurts.But fortunately I like pain, as I am into that stuff. But I know you are hurt now and not in the sexy way. What is wrong with you? If you feel bad then I feel bad.But not in the sexy way"

So Tyrion told her the whole story. She was shocked to hear this and said "I'm really shocked to hear this! Your parents are monsters!"

"Which ones?"

"All four of them, I don't like them. As much as I don't like Sam!"

And that was a lot because Tyrion knew that Jon hated Sam because she was unbelievably stupid and fat.

But Jon took out a letter, "this had just arrived," said Jon.

Tyrion openend the envolupe and inside was an invitation:

"Most Esteemed Tyrion said the message"

"You are condord invited to the royal ball of your parents. Your real parents, miss."

"We hope to see you soon. Most esteamly yours, dutchess!"

Oh my, said Tyrion this is rad!. But Jon was a little sceptic: "Maybe it's a trick."

"Why?" said Tyrion

"Because there are.... rumours. Of Danaerys still being around!"

"Surely she could not come all the way to Europe!?" said Tyrion confidently because she didn't think that Danaerys could travel that far.

"Hurm," said Jon contagiously, "we just have to be careful."

And there's more where that came from! (Not sure why Tyrion is female, maybe I missed something in Dance wid Dlagons?)

More fun stuff below.

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DGLA Nominations & Predictions

H0274840750_throwing-axe-classic_artnr_840750DGLA season has begun! Woohoo! 

The nominations are out, but they are not complete. Try to resist the urge to vote until after 27 May, as the DGLA have said they're still taking (and adding) crowd-sourced nominations until that date. Those folks will be at a pretty substantial disadvantage already. When you are ready, vote here.

The (current) nominees list and my predictions below.

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