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Another week has gone by, and I have once again managed to find my share of wonderful words on the Internet!
…And it’s hilarious. Now not only do I know R. F. Kuang is among the most talented new authors of the decade, she is hilarious as fuck. And yes, Bookdragonism’s very own Rain deserves back-to-back shoutouts because her blog is THE GREATEST!
Rain: The Dragon Republic focuses on naval warfare which really drew my attention because I haven’t read any other book that paid great attention to this particular subject before. What was your favorite part in writing this aspect of the book?
Rebecca: The ship porn. THE SHIP PORN! I did so much research on makes and models of all types of old Chinese ships, and I think you can tell from the lavish descriptions in the book that I got really into it. There’s a line in the Dragon Republic where Baji says, “If that ship were a person, I’d fuck that ship.” That is very much how I feel about great bulky warships, small and nimble sampans, and sleek opium skimmers… I got to take all those beautiful, beautiful ships and hurl them into chaotic battle. So fun.
Speaking of fantasy inspired by Chineese and East Asian history, there’s a new one on my radar, thanks to r/fantasy!
I’ve had this article from the New Yorker (written by Eric Alterman ) opened up for weeks now, and somehow I’ve never gotten around to reading it — shame on me, since it’s an excellent one! This piece makes the case of why studying history is beyond necessary, putting an accent on American politics and how a distinct lack of historical thinking makes for a population much more prone to manipulation (reading between the lines). Here’s an excerpt:
The reason that students at Yale and places like it can “afford” to major in history is that they have the luxury of seeing college as a chance to learn about the world beyond the confines of their home towns, and to try to understand where they might fit in. That’s what history does best. It locates us and helps us understand how we got here and why things are the way they are. “History instills a sense of citizenship, and reminds you of questions to ask, especially about evidence,” Willis told me. In a follow-up e-mail after our conversation, Mikhail wrote, “A study of the past shows us that the only way to understand the present is to embrace the messiness of politics, culture, and economics. There are never easy answers to pressing questions about the world and public life.” Bruce Springsteen famously developed a profound political consciousness after happening upon Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager’s “A Pocket History of the United States,” first published in 1942. In his recent Broadway show, Springsteen explained, “I wanted to know the whole American story. . . . I felt like I needed to understand as much of it as I could in order to understand myself.”
I’ve been reading Susan’s blog plenty lately, partially over the fact we’re both part of this awesome wee community of bloggers called, “TheWriteReads” (catchy, I know) but also because it’s a damn fun blog to follow! So rather than choose any one of her blog posts, I decided I’d just let you pick your poison, if you’re so predisposed. My personal favourite might be her interview withAuthor Julie Eshbaugh — seems like I might pick a YA book after a very long time of self-restraint. That said, plenty of other interesting reads can be found over at Novel Lives!
Last but not least, this article over at Tor.com, penned by Leah Schnelbach, starts off strong and doesn’t let up! I’m not too familiar with J. Michael Straczynski’s works but by the sound of this, I need to immediately get better acquainted with him. There’s just so much! The book seems to thread between elements that are both dark and terrible…and brilliant and inspiring. After readng this in full, I can say with a degree of certainty, I need this Becoming Superman in my life, and I’m going to get my hands on it, come what may.
Any good Writer Biography talks about discovering a love of books, and JMS’ reading life sums up the balance of humor and horror that marks his whole childhood. While living in a rough part of Newark, JMS discovered the magical paperback spinner-racks that saved many a young reader’s life. The problem being that between being truly destitute, and having a father who didn’t want books in the house, he couldn’t afford even cheap pulp books. So, as he puts it, he “turned to a life of crime.”
“The only problem was my conscience. I could reconcile myself to taking the books since that was the only way to read them, but the idea of keeping them was more than I could bear.”
Certainly Superman wouldn’t go around stealing paperbacks. Unless of course Red Kryptonite was involved, but then he’d put them back as soon as he recovered.
Which is how Young JMS began stealing books, reading them without cracking the spine, and then returning them, all the while hoping not to get caught at either end. But it paid off, as he read Ballard, Aldiss, Dick, Spinrad, and Zelazny this way, learned to respect books with the word “Hugo” printed on the front, and discovered Harlan Ellison, who would become a friend and mentor a decade later.
Among all the stories about holding to deadlines and hustling jobs, JMS makes a point of digging into why he wants to write. It isn’t just a form of therapy for him, or a way to pay the bills—it also becomes a way to prove to himself, each day, that his father’s point of view is not the only one. By writing through his pain, and processing the years of abuse, he’s able to think on the page, and find new ways to approach life, and new ways to be human, and he’s able to put those points of view out into the world for other people. This comes through most strongly when he begins work on what is probably his best-known project, Babylon 5.
Compelling, isn’t it? Seems like my bank account will suffer another blow these coming weeks but–you know what?–looks like it’ll be more than worth it!
Thanks for reading! Now that I’ve spread the good word, tell me — what caught your eye on the Internet this past week?! Send me a recommendation, whether it’s an interesting blog post you yourself have penned, a book review, interview or just some fascinating article you can’t help but gush about. You can reach me on my Twitter(on the side) or via comments down below!