Hello, yes. My name is Hiu, and besides being a world-renowned sentient cabbage, I am also a damned fine journalism. My wheelhouse is the speculative fiction and fantasy community, and like any other news reporter worth their salt, I look at maybe 10% of the facts before jumping to wild conclusions and telling you what you should be thinking. It’s all very serious, and definitely not satirical.
So let’s check out what news broke out this week, and figure out how to fix it.
The Wheel of Time
Dear reader, the world is ending. And that world is Randland.
It turns out that Amazon’s new adaption of The Wheel of Time has NOTHING to do with the utterly fantastic pilot episode that was released 4 years ago.
No. Instead, we are being subjected to an entirely new adaption, featuring a group of people I’ve never heard of before, and so naturally I will judge them based solely on their appearances.
I, for one, cannot fathom the excitement that I am seeing in some quarters. What is the value in cautious optimism and excitement when compared to the far more reasonable stance of, “I already hate it, and will wallow in my misery until proven wrong”?
And let’s not dance around the elephant in the room. This casting just isn’t true to the books. It’s not realistic. In the books, Rand is described as having a skin tone that was notably lighter than the “dark-colouring” of the rest of the Two Rivers. I think everyone will agree that there is no other possible way for this to be interpreted than all five characters are white.
And why must my capability to suspend my disbelief be stretched like this? In a world that is pretty much governed by people who can do literal fucking magic, and where Trollocs exist — humans who have been interbred with animals such as pigs and goats — I think we can all agree that the biggest threat to realism is that there are too few white folks.
In the end, all I want is a historically accurate fantasy novel that doesn’t deviate from my ill-advised, preconceived notions of the middle ages in the slightest, and stays true to the book except for those parts that I don’t like. I’m not a racist, I just like realism.
Oh, and I hope the CGI magic looks really cool.
Why Do People Keep Writing Books?
This is a question that has been burning my mind for years now.
Every time I walk into a bookshop, I find that the books that are on sale, or that are face-out on the bookshelves, are recent releases. And I don’t understand why. What are these authors hoping to achieve?
If you go onto the internet and do a search for “best fantasy books”, or if you march over to Reddit or Twitter and ask for book recommendations, you will inevitably be met with the same list of authors and books, and it will inevitably include Tolkien. That should tell you all you need to know.
All of the good books have already been written.
There’s a reason that Tolkien regularly has whole bookcases dedicated to him in bookshops across the planet. It’s because he wrote the Good Book. He did it first, and there’s no point in anyone else trying to do it now. People can only read, like, maybe five books in their lives. If it were possible to read more, then there would be whole websites dedicated to talking about all the wonderful books that certain readers had read, and I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t see any sites like that kicking around.
And anyway, why would you want to read something that has the potential to be truly amazing and topical, when you could read (or re-read) something that you know will be Okay?
In this part of the Chronicle, I will review books that I have definitely read. What follows are categorically not just wild extrapolations based on the titles.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
A story about a man named, idk, Frederic or something, who claims to be a wizard to his younger cousin when he is five years old. Rather than be caught in the lie, Frederic goes to outrageous lengths to convince his cousin that he truly is magic. Learning all he can about practical movie effects, video editing, and sleight of hand, he manages to keep the ruse going well into his thirties. 5 stars.
Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer
A poem about a sunset. Very moving. 4 stars.
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
A photobook of mildly irritating things. A perfect Christmas present for that one relative you can’t stand. My blogmates bought me this one for my birthday, and the photo of the pizza cheese being caught on the inside of the box’s lid really upset me. Zero stars.
For those who haven’t quite realized it by now, this is OBVIOUSLY satire.