* Lately I’ve been musing out loud about how I’d like to read a fantasy novel that a) is one novel b) doesn’t try to rewrite Lord of the Rings like every other fantasy series that wasn’t by Michael Moorcock I read in middle/high school c) wasn’t a treatise on how White People Really Are The Master Race In A Fantasy Version Of England And/Or Europe. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed may in fact be the book I’ve been looking for. Arabic/Muslim setting, fat old man in his twilight as the main character (tho he effectively seems to fulfill the Wizard role), and although it’s the first in a trilogy, it seems like I don’t need to invest a bunch of time in background stuff to enjoy the book. You can read the first chapter here.
I have to confess, I do have a certain soft spot for Arabic fantasy/SF settings. Back in my (*SIGH*) AD&D playing days when I was younger, my favorite settings were Kara-Tur (read: China/Japan/Korea), and, later, Al-Qadim. My favorite campaign ever played in fact was a mix of the two settings into one big epic. (Yes I will stop now.) When I was big into cyberpunk, my second favorite series next to William Gibson’s trilogy (natch) was George Alec Effinger’s Budayeen cycle. Lest we forget, recently, in the throes of a Bakuman reading kick, I literally dreamed up an entire manga series that was Arabic fantasy, called The Sultan of Thieves (I think I even blogged here I was looking for an artist to draw it. Hey, maybe I still want one!). And let’s face it, the Muslim world has loomed large over us the entire century to date, so it’s about time we start accepting it’s there and we can actually enjoy what it has to offer as well.
Anyway, I’ll be checking the book out.
* Another book I hope to be checking out soon: the printed collection(s) of five hundred “lost” fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and forgotten for over 150 years somewhere in Regensburg, Germany. The Grimms seemed to rate von Schönwerth, and I suppose they would’ve known. I don’t suppose it’s too much to ask to see if these newly discovered tales put paid to a lot of fairy tale tropes like weak submissive princesses and the like? Well, either way, should be fascinating reading.
* If I ever thought that the local music scene in Indianapolis would be a great idea for a webcomic, I would think I would have had to do it myself. Well, no. Turns out writer Troy Brownfield and artist Sarah Vaughn, both former Hoosiers from the relevant time period, have released Sparkshooter, about a Battle of the Bands contest at the Patio (a great old hole in the wall nightclub greatly missed in Broad Ripple) circa 2003. Whoda thunk it. Wonder how many people I know will show up as characters.