Terry Pratchett and Questioning Gender roles in Fantasy Literature

I’ve been listing to Terry Pratchett’s The Slip of the Keyboard at work recently; it’s basically a collection of essays about his life, writing and his struggles with Alzheimer’s.

pi7KxKpdTIn one of his essays, he mentions how women are portrayed in fantasy. If there is a witch, she is generally evil and crouches around like an old hag, spitting curses at everyone. If she is beautiful, she is seductive, using her sexuality as a means to an end. (I think many Disney villains can be used as an example here: Ursula, Wicked Step Mother, Malificent, etc.)

Gandalf-2On the opposite scale are the Wizards, who are male, wise, and that mentor that most protagonists seek out in times of great peril. Think Gandolf in Lord of the Rings, or Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea.

I guess my question is: Why is this so?

One of my own stories has a witch as its main villain, and I inadvertently made her beautiful, seductive and evil. I did this without thought, yet I’m wondering if this isn’t the time to mix it up a bit? Isn’t it time we had an evil wizard? Or a kind, yet sexy witch, who is not evil?

(J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books don’t really count in this musing, I suppose. As plenty of her witches are very nice, beautiful intelligent people. And Voldemort, a.k.a most evil wizard, ever.)

One thing I love about Terry Pratchett’s writing is that he doesn’t write characters that are predictable. Everyone (of the characters I’ve read so far) are unique and one of a kind. They don’t fit a basic formula, and they aren’t comfortable, which is completely fine. By comfortable, I mean you don’t always know what you can expect from them: one minute they might be performing an act of heroism, the next, you might question their sanity a bit.11751426_10203753735158590_4103356951849478425_n

The point: Terry Pratchett creates real characters that don’t fit into the formula of basic hero and that’s fine. (He also made the point that not all best-selling fantasy books are the best written either.)

This is something I agree with. But I guess what gets me is this whole idea of how women are portrayed in Fantasy. If she is a witch in some stories, why do we assume she is evil?

Do we automatically assign gender roles to specific aspects of fantasy? Do we like when witches are evil? Is the old hag expected to bring bad news? Or is this what we’ve just seen time after time, and so, we use examples of literature before us and think: ‘this the way it’s supposed to be.’

Or, if these gender roles are missing in the novel, does that automatically make it more unique than others? Just a thought.

What do you guys think? Any examples you can think of?

Poem: “Not Goodbye”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandma these past few days. It might have something to do with the fact that I was up at her house this July 4th, or rather…it’s my uncle’s house now…

Which is something that I don’t think any of us will ever get used to saying.  It is difficult because every holiday, every special occasion was celebrated at Grandma’s house. When you lose the matriarch of the family, how do you go on? How do you take sad memories that used to be happy and put them back together again? When everything that reminds you of her, feels so…empty? Anyway, wrote this last night:

0529111809a

Not Goodbye

I remember my grandma’s poppies;

bright orange-red flowers and

Bright green stems; their petals iridescent,

like glitter on your fingertips

like you’ve been touched by

butterfly wings

 

Every year they would bloom

and every year they would die

mowed over until just the bristles remain

“They’ll come back next spring,”

my mother told me,

But to me it felt like a bad joke.

0529111808

 

I think about love

how it doesn’t really go away

after you’ve lost someone special

 

Instead, it grows,

becomes that sadness

that labors in your chest

 

You cling to symbols:

old pictures, a key chain

a necklace she probably never wore

You tell yourself: “these things really mattered”

 

But, what you should be harboring

are the memories

the tokens of life’s joys and heartbreak

 

Dear Grandma:

Your house still smells like you

it misses the joyful, “hellos,” that echo

and hugs that used to

smoosh my glasses up into my nose;

 

I look out your bathroom window

I can still see your clothes

on the line, blowing in the wind

 

I can see all the picnics, all the weddings, all

the graduations, all the Christmas’s

will anyone every throw crumpled

wrapping paper at me again?

 

But still, I’ll remember,

when the trees grow,

when the family members become

more strangers than friends

I’ll remember that your house

is you, and this land

still hums with your presence

 

and your family is still here

and I am still here and this feels like goodbye,

but how could it be?

 

How could it be?

Poem: Freedom and the 4th

I kept thinking yesterday was Saturday because I had the day off, but today IS Saturday and it is also the 4th, and to me, that means family, freedom and fireworks! Oh, and hotdogs. I make sure I consume at least one hotdog around this time of year. Usually at a cook out. With pasta salads. And watermelon. And cupcake desserts.

Source: deviantart.com

Source: deviantart.com

Anyway, we wouldn’t be here celebrating the 4th, if it weren’t for the brave soldiers many years ago, who made that dream a reality.

Free our troops

Really free them

Each sacrifice is sacred

Each life is special

Don’t forget the lives

Our soldiers give up, but

Mostly: Pray they come home

Pray they come home safe!

I am eternally grateful to the men and women in service and the sacrifices that they have made and continue to make on a daily basis. Without them, we would not be here to celebrate the freedom we so desperately love on this independence day. Thank you all!

Happy July 4th everyone! :)

Neil Gaiman to Write Episodes of ‘American Gods’ on Starz

amandagrey1:

I thought this seemed appropriate considering my recent post! Woo! American Gods coming to the big screen!

Originally posted on Variety:

Neil Gaiman fans, rejoice! The author himself will be writing episodes for the upcoming Starz series based on his beloved novel “American Gods.”

The show’s producer Bryan Fuller spilled the beans to Collider at the Saturn Awards earlier this week.

“We are cranking away. We’ve got the first two scripts written already,” Fuller said. “It’s wonderful to be working with Neil Gaiman.”

Fuller clarified: “Neil Gaiman is going to be writing episodes of the show,” he said. “It’s going to have scope, as it should.”

Based on the level of fan excitement generated earlier this month when it was announced that the novel would be turned into a Starz series, the reaction to the news of Gaiman’s direct involvement promises to be enthusiastic, to say the least.

The critically celebrated book has been translated into 30 languages and feted with Hugo and Nebula awards, high honors in the fantasy genre.

“I am thrilled, ‎scared, delighted…

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How I devoured 20 Books in less than Five Months

Right now, I work in data entry, I’ve been there about five months and as far as boring jobs go…well, this one takes the cake. I don’t really mind it though. It’s not stressful, the people I work with are alright, and I don’t have to deal with customers, or customer service, or retail, (which I hate.)

And I can listen to music, AND audio books while I work, and this arrangement works well for a book-nerd like me.

spy8I’ve come to realize I have this obsession; I told myself that if I wasn’t in Grad school, I would absorb all the books that I could, and perhaps learn something new.

I guess I didn’t realize until now, (late twenties now and I’m just starting to realize) that I really do have a terrible attention span. I’ll watch a video for 20 secs, and I swear if it doesn’t insight some kind of meaningful reaction in that very short life span, I’ll exit and find something else to look at.

I think this is also the reason I love young adult and children literature. For that genre, you really have to start out in the middle of the action to catch its readers, it is immediate, it takes you along for the ride.

I love a great story, but sometimes I don’t have the attention span, or time to sit down and try to absorb a thousand pages of high fantasy with a trillion characters, and numerous worlds, but I CAN listen to an audio book and I’ve absorbed my fair share in the past couple of months:

The books I’ve now read (listened to):

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling (all seven of them)

Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (all five)

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

American Gods, by Niel Gaiman

Still Foolin’ Em…Where I’ve Been, Where I’m going and Where the Hell are My Keys? By Billy Crystal

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris

Virals, by Kathy Reichs

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

If I stay, by Gayle Foreman

Where She Went, by Gayle Foreman

The books are pretty much in order from how I listened to them. I started with Harry Potter first, because, let’s face it – it’s the best! I’ve already read the books about a thousand times, but I do love listening to the audio occasionally.

And because it’s a list, I thought I’d do a little bit of ranking…

My favorite:   Harry Potter, of course.

Least favorite:  Virals, by Kathy Reichs. It wasn’t as original as I thought it’d be.

Funniest: Billy Crystal’s Still Foolin’ Em

Saddest: If I Stay, Gayle Foreman

Most thought-provoking: The Book Thief and American Gods

Most Surprising: The Casual Vacancy. The book was just different from what I was expecting. I think I expected more of a mystery-type novel from the way it is described, but the book is really more of a look into the heartbreaking world of human emotions.

And Most Inspiring: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. It inspired me to journal more, and write more non-fiction of my own.

And I guess that’s it. There really isn’t much else to this post except that I’m going to sit back and admire my own list and think about how awesome I am. ;)

I am contemplating listening to the Wheel of Time series next. What do think? Any suggestions?

What is your favorite book?

Have you read any of the books on this list?

Poem: “Summer”

I was home this weekend at Mom and Dad’s – they live up in the country and you forget how quiet and peaceful it can be once you’ve been away from it all for a while. You forget how much the crickets, the wind in the trees, the flash of lightning bugs can be your night-time symphony. I wrote this one last night, just reminiscing.

Source: fstoppers.com

Source: fstoppers.com

Summer

People say there is something

about the way light shines across crystal

across diamonds, too

 

But there is really something to be said

about thousands of lightning bugs

on a warm June night

that makes the world glitter and take a deep breath

 

These are the diamonds of the mid-night summer

these gems of remembrance

these flashes of yesterday.

If I Were Han Solo…

amandagrey1:

Bahaha, the Star Wars nerd in me just had to share this!

Originally posted on The Return of the Modern Philosopher:

HanIf I were Han Solo

I’d never go home

I’d fly ‘cross the stars

Make the Falcon my home

Han LeiaIf I were Han Solo

I’d never be single

I’d woo me a Princess

And get the ladies to mingle

Han medalIf I were Han Solo

My fears would be zero

I’d blow up the Death Star

And be everyone’s hero

Han pilotIf I were Han Solo

I’d be your best friend

I might be a scoundrel

But I’d be there in the end

Han trooperIf I were Han Solo

We’d always have fun

I’d teach you to fly

And be an ace with a gun

Han ChewieIf I were Han Solo

And your life got screwy

I’d show up guns blazing

And bring my boy Chewie

Han CrewThe Force would be with me

Wherever I’d land

If I were Han Solo

My life would be grand

View original

Some Non-Fiction: Today’s Observation, a Conversation at the Lunch Table

I’ve been listening to David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, at work for the last few days. His book is a collection of essays about his life and some short stories. For some reason, it inspired me to try a little bit of non-fiction writing. I do need to record more of what I do, and the conversations I have on a given basis. Mr. Sedaris apparently writes too much in his journal, or so he confesses.

Non-fiction isn’t always easy for me. I don’t know if writing about your life, and the people in it is easier for some – but for me, I have to hold onto the little bit of friends I have. So it is difficult for me to just let go. Being a writer is about writing truth…and I worry too much about what people think.

Anyway, the point is, I am trying to challenge myself to try something new. I do not write enough about my life, and that is a shame. As boring as it is, there’s got to be some gem amongst the stones, right? Right?  Ahaha. Here goes.


 A conversation at the lunch table.

“Someone stole my carrots!” I look down into my lunch bag at the lonely tub of hummus. It stares back at me blankly, smudgy, feeling like old cement.

“Well that’s just great!” I say as I shove my lunch away. “Now I have nothing to eat my hummas with.” The last part is said with a bit of a whine. If its one thing that pisses me off, it’s going hungry.

I look up to a stare from my fellow co-workers. The woman next to me gets an uncertain look. “Someone stole my soda once.”

“Seems unlikely,” says another woman, her hair is grey, long, down her back. “I mean, if it was a bag of chips…”

“At least you have pasta,” says another.  A young woman, who reads graphic novels and writes in a journal covered with cartoon characters. “I have this,” and she gestures towards a microwave pizza she bought in the vending machine. It’s one of those french bread kinds, that are usually better in an oven.

“How it is?” I ask, already a bit skeptical.

She shrugs. “It’s not as crunchy as I thought it would be.”

I respond with a thoughtful, “that’s too bad,” and make my way out of the break room. One thing I do like about my job: the people I work with. There are other things that leave much to be desired. A clean floor would be nice, for one.

“I suppose I could have left it on the counter…” I mumble a bit disappointed, turning the dial on my lock to shove my purse away in my locker. “But it sounded so much better being stolen. Other than me just being forgetful. You know, I was late to work this morning.”

The older woman with the long hair laughs. “And that’s your story and you’re sticking to it!”

“You’re darn right.”

I watch her head back up the stairs, back to work. Back to the monotony and a desk that smells like dust and sometimes burnt coffee. I’ll sometimes prop my folder up on my desk, to keep the computer from blowing hot air on my face. For some reason, this gives me a weird sense of victory. I suppose there is pleasure in the little things in life. Like I’ve beat the system. Like who cares if the computer may over-heat, at least my face is cool.

Back to work…back to work…

When I get home, I am hungry and tired, and I find a bag of carrot sticks sitting propped up against the microwave. I wave a fruit fly away.

“Think they’re still good?” I mutter, as I inspect the orange skin, that now looks dried and crackley, like they’ve been in the desert doing some serious time and not lounging serenely on my counter all day in an empty apartment.

My boyfriend gives a deep chuckle from the next room. “I’m sure they’re fine.”

I scrunch up my nose and laugh as I put them in the refrigerator, feeling suddenly like a little kid and then shaking my head at the absurdity of it all. How silly I was to think people would actually steal healthy food. Crunching carrots on the sly, isn’t exactly inconspicuous.

Unless there’s some kind of crazed vegetarian out there, just ready to go postal.

I’m starting to think I should be on the look out for Bug’s Bunny. I’ve tried the “What’s up, dock?” thing to Michael while munching on a carrot before. He doesn’t find it attractive.

Ah, next time I suppose.

 

Game of Thrones Season 5 finale: Review and Thoughts

I’ve been terrible keeping up with my Game of Thrones reviews this season. The truth is I don’t really have time to go into in-depth reviews unless I’m getting paid for it — and as priorities go — writing fiction and other such nonsense really does take center stage. But. BUT. I feel like it would be awful of me, disrespectful even, not to give my two cents on last night’s finale. So here goes… (Also, I’ve now read the books. So, some book information might be hinted at here. But no book spoilers.)

Arya-Goes-Blind-in-Game-of-Thrones-Season-5-FinaleNote*** Spoilers a head!

A quick recap:

Pretty much all of the story lines that we’ve loved and adored have ended in cliff-hangers. (Well, with the exception of Stannis who I could, quite frankly, do without!)

***In Dorne, Jaime has finally recovered his “niece” and they are on their way home. After a heartfelt scene, where Myrcella tells Jaime that she’s known all along that he was her father, she starts bleeding from her nose. Lady Ellaria had given her a kiss goodbye, but her lips were smeared with poison. We don’t know that the young princess is dead, but it is certainly assumed that Dorne finally has their revenge for Oberyn’s death.

In Meereen, Tyrion, Jorah, and Daario all sit around the throne room trying to decide what to do now that their Khaleesi is probably wandering around the countryside some where. They decide that Tyrion will stay and try to rule Meereen with the help of Missandei and Grey Worm, while Jorah and Daario go off in search of Dany. Oh, and Varys shows up to help Tyrion.

imagesMeanwhile, Dany is indeed stuck in the middle of no where with her black dragon, Drogon, who doesn’t want to go anywhere he doesn’t want to. Getting desperate, Dany takes off on her own, but she is discovered by a Dothraki horde who immediately surround her.

Meanwhile, caught in the hell hole he’s now found himself in, (kharma’s a bitch, eh Stannis?) “The one true King” did not find favor with the Lord of Light by sacrificing his daughter. (The sweetest character in the show so far!)  His wife has committed suicide, half of his men have deserted and the red woman has abandoned him. On their march to Winterfell, the Boltons meet them halfway and it is a massacre.

got510_111414_hs_dsc_42601Wounded and alone in the woods, Stannis is discovered by Brienne of Tarth, who believes it is her duty to avenge the death of Renly Baratheon. The scene ends with Brienne swinging her sword, and we are left to assume that this is the end of Stannis. (This is not something that is confirmed in the books, but I say: good riddance!)

Arya steals a face from the hall of many faces, so she can cross another name off her list. Disguised as some random girl, she attacks Meryn Trant gruesomely; gouges out his eyes and stabs him repeatedly, and slits his throat. She reminds him that she is Arya Stark and that his death is for Syrio Forel, her sword-fighting instructor.

Naturally, she gets punished because the many faced god did not ask for this life, and Arya is not the no one she claims to be. Jaqen H’ghar, takes Arya’s eyesight.

Alfie-Allen-and-Sophie-Turner-in-Game-of-Thrones-Season-5-FinaleOn a more positive note, Sansa decides to take her life into her own hands while the Boltons are away in battle. She lights a candle in the tower that Brienne tells her to, but she is confronted by Myranda, Ramsay’s mistress.

FINALLY, Theon finds some redemption as he stops Myranda from harming Sansa. Theon and Sansa grab hands and race to the wall, where they jump into the snow and to freedom.

Meanwhile, Cersei has finally decided to confess. She admits to sexual relations with her cousin, but nothing else. The high sparrow says that she can return to the red keep…after her atonement. Cersei walks naked through the street; through shit and blood and who knows what else. We’ve seen her remain strong, but near the end of her long walk, filthy and bloody, she finally breaks down.

GoT-S5E10-CerseiQyburn is there to comfort her at the red keep and presents her with her new, mysterious champion, (who we can assume is the Mountain in zombie form.) He swoops her into his arms, and Cersei’s tears disappear.

But, it wouldn’t be a finale on Game of Thrones without some kind of tragic death.

images7We learn in earlier scenes that Sam desires to be a maester to be helpful to Jon and to keep Gilly safe. He and Gilly leave for Old Town. Tricked into thinking that his uncle Benjen has returned, Jon is cornered by men from the night’s watch who think he is a traitor because of the alliance that he has formed with the Wildings. They stab him repeatedly, but the most heartbreaking is from the young Olly, who delivers the finally blow.

The finale ends with Jon’s sightless gaze, and his dark, red blood seeping into the white, white snow.

My Thoughts?

Not Jon Snow! He is one of my favorite characters, and I choose to remain hopeful. It doesn’t make sense to me to end Jon’s storyline at the wall, and it is my opinion that the red woman, will bring Jon back to life. If not…well…I can’t see the sense of his death. As he is a great character.

Anyone have a Julius Ceasar moment while watching Jon’s death. Et tu Brute?

We’ve seen Cersei at her worst, and although you feel like you should feel sorry for her, you still remember she has done terrible things. Wonder what Jamie ever saw in her?

I was very pleased with Stannis’ death, as I never really was a great fan of him in the first place. And after the last episode, with his daughter’s death…I think it is much deserved, to be honest. I also can’t wait until Ramsey Bolton gets what is coming to him!

I think there is a lot that we can’t take for granted here, though; readers of the books know that just because you are dead in Game of Thrones, doesn’t mean you can’t rise again.

Oh! Well, lets hope the red woman get’s to Jon’s body before they decide to burn him…

Any thoughts on last nights finale?

 

Magnetic Poetry: ‘Rainy Day’

It’s raining cats and dogs here in upstate New York this Sunday evening. I cracked the window just so I could hear the patter of the rain outside, because the sound is so relaxing, but then a spider decided to crawl its way down the screen and freak me out, so that quickly ended! But it reminded me of this poem I started last night. It’s been a while for some magnetic poetry, but I am proud the way this one came out. Happy Sunday everyone. :) Let’s hope its a good week for all of us! Rain, or shine.


Rainy Day

wpid-img_20150614_181906805.jpgClouds bring liquid mornings

like oceans

like blue sky

like joy

and the soft breath

of steam to my lips