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September 28th, 2016

09:13 pm: Guest Post: Noblebright Fantasy: An Overview

I am reposting this with the permission of C. J. Brightley, whose blog this is from.

This idea seems to have much in common with Superversiveness. 

Noblebright Fantasy: An Overview  


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Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set (link goes to Amazon)

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to connect with another indie author, Mike Reeves-McMillan, who wrote a lovely review of The King’s Swordwhich he described, tongue-in-cheek, as “cheerybright.” He meant that the world wasn’t perfect, but good characters exist and can make a difference in their world and society through actions defined by honesty, integrity, and self-sacrifice. While the term cheerybright certainly made me smile (and was a lovely counterpoint to grimdark), we eventually discovered the term “noblebright.”

The term noblebright was originally something of a joke from the gaming community. The quintessential grimdark game Warhammer 40k (which I have not played, being neither a gamer nor a fan of grimdark) was rewritten as Brighthammer 40k. Some brilliant unknown person (thank you, whoever you are!) described the rewrite as “noblebright”, which we liked because it focused on the motivations of the characters rather than a perceived cheerfulness which wasn’t reflected in all the books we meant when we talked about this previously-unnamed subgenre of fantasy.

So what is noblebright fantasy?

Noblebright fantasy has at least one important character with noble, idealistic motives who does the right thing out of principle. The character is flawed, but his or her actions are generally defined by honesty, integrity, sacrifice, love, and kindness. The story upholds the goodness of the character; the character’s good qualities are not held up as naiveté, cluelessness, or stupidity, but rather shown to be worthwhile. Good characters can make a difference. Noblebright characters can learn and grow. They can deliberately choose to be kind when tempted to be unkind, they can choose generosity when it hurts, and they can influence their world and other characters for the better. In a noblebright story, even villains are not without hope; their stories may have a redemptive ending, or they may have some kind of conversion experience (religious or not). It’s not guaranteed, of course, but in a noblebright story, it’s a possibility.

Noblebright fantasy is not utopian fiction. The world of a noblebright story is not perfect, and indeed can sometimes be quite dark. Actions have consequences, and even good characters can make terrible mistakes. But a noblebright story is generally hopeful in tone, even if there are plenty of bad, grim, dark things going on in the world.

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Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set (link goes to Barnes & Noble: Nook)

Noblebright Fantasy: Intersections with Other Fantasy Subgenres

First, a few definitions:

Clean fantasy – Clean fantasy is fantasy that does not include sex or graphic violence. Clean fantasy is very often noblebright, but not always. It is often written for young adults, but not always. It is “young-adult appropriate” even when written for adults. Not all noblebright fantasy is clean, but much is.

Young adult (YA) fantasy – Young adult is an age range, not a genre, so young adult books of any genre have the age range (13-17 years old) in common. Young adult books are typically written with slightly simpler vocabulary, grammar, and syntax than books written for adult readers. They often, but not always, have a coming of age element to the story, and almost always have a young adult protagonist or main character.

Not all coming of age books are young adult books. “Coming of age” is a theme in the story, while young adult defines the intended audience. A coming of age story might be written from an adult perspective looking back and intended for adult readers rather than young adult readers.

As an amusing aside, I’ve found a number of definitions that define “young adult” as ages 20-39, but in literary terms, “young adult” means basically middle school and high school age, so 13-17 years old. 18-24ish tends to fall under “new adult” which is a recent term for books with college age protagonists (whether or not they’re enrolled in college).

Christian fantasy – Christian fantasy is written with a clear Christian perspective, with either allegorical or direct reference to Christian theology. Most Christian fantasy books will be fairly clean, but that’s not an absolute guarantee (I believe some of Ted Dekker’s darker stories may be more graphically violent than would fall under the “clean fantasy” descriptor.). Most Christian fantasies will be noblebright in character even if the world is dark, but not all noblebright fantasies will be Christian fantasies.

To use my own books as examples (because I know them best):

The King’s Sword and the rest of the Erdemen Honor series are noblebright, clean fantasy, but not Christian fantasy. You can easily identify themes of integrity and sacrificial love, but there is no religious component to the story. They are not YA, although both The King’s Sword and Honor’s Heirhave a coming of age thread within the story, because the stories are written for adults from an adult perspective.

Things Unseen and the rest of the A Long-Forgotten Song series are clean Christian fantasy. I’ve described them as “darkish” at times because they’re more violent and scary than Erdemen Honor. However, it’s the world that is darkish; most of the characters you spend the most time with are verynoblebright. Is it clean? Well, some of the violence is a little graphic, but I think most parents would probably be ok with even younger teenage readers reading it, so it’s clean or at least cleanish. It’s the polar opposite of grimdark… there is hope and redemption and grace in a very dark world. The darkness is there not for the reader to wallow in but to highlight the magnificence of grace.

We’re starting a movement.

I want to make noblebright fantasy a thing the way grimdark is a thing. I want you to be able to search for noblebright fantasy on Amazon and find it. I want to bring noblebright into the spotlight the way grimdark has held the spotlight for years.

We need your help.

I’m assembling a series of boxed sets of noblebright fantasy books. They’re great books with a noblebright perspective, at a great price. We want to hit the bestsellers lists.

I’d love to be a bestseller, of course. But more than that, I want to get noblebright fantasy out to the world. I want to let people know that fantasy doesn’t have to be grim and dark and cruel and hopeless. There is hope and light and kindness and joy in fantasy! I want to give devoted fantasy readers a new perspective, and I want to attract readers who might have been turned off of fantasy by the recent trend toward grimdark.

How you can help:

Do you believe in noblebright fantasy? Here’s what you can do:

  • Buy the books! You can check out the boxed sets or seek out the individual books you’re interested in. I will post reviews of all the books in sets that I organize on my blog.* The first boxed set is available here! Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks
  • Search for noblebright! I’m working with other authors to make noblebright more widely known, and we’re using noblebright as a keyword on Amazon and other retailers. So you can search to find other noblebright books by using it as a search term. Like this (click here!).*
  • Write reviews for the books you enjoy! Using the noblebright term in your review will help that book come up more easily in searches by readers searching for noblebright fantasy. Not sure how to write a review? I wrote some tips here.
  • Spread the word! If you’re a blogger, blog about noblebright as a new subgenre or about the noblebright books you’ve enjoyed. Do you tweet? Tweet about it! Tell your friends!
  • Sign up for my mailing list! I don’t have (and don’t want) ownership over the noblebright term. But I do have a leadership role in this movement, and I am organizing these first noblebright boxed sets. As a Christian reader and author, I plan to let you know where noblebright fantasy, clean fantasy, and Christian fantasy intersect and overlap in the books I’m reading and the boxed sets I’m organizing, to help you select books you will love.

*At one point I was advised to trademark the term noblebright in order to ensure that the definition remained relatively static and that it was not applied to books which included material that was problematic in some way. I chose not to do this. I believe authors who write noblebright understand the point of noblebright and the limits of the term. I’d rather have noblebright spread than keep ownership of it. I understand, and I want to make you aware, that not all noblebright fantasy will be completely consistent with a conservative Christian worldview. Noblebright is a term that describes a general attitude of hope and goodness and nobility in the work, but does not necessarily mean that the author is a Christian or that the work is completely devoid of content that you personally may find problematic or challenging in some way. If you’re a Christian reader, this is a new way to find books you might enjoy. If you are not a Christian but are looking for books that are more hopeful than what has been in vogue recently, noblebright is your new favorite search term.

***

Jagi here again. For more from C. J. Brightly,see her blog here.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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September 24th, 2016

12:55 am: New Newsletter Coming: Wrights’ Writing Report!

John and I will be sending out a newsletter two to four times a year with information about new releases and other book related issues.

Anyone who wishes to join may visit the new signup form on the About page.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

September 20th, 2016

01:43 pm: The Wright Stuff!

We now have a shop at Zazzle. There are collections there with items from the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, the Prospero's Children (Daughter) series, Tales of Moth and Cobweb, and the general writings of John C. Wright.

At the suggestion of teen author and superfan April Freeman, the shop is called:

 

The Wright Stuff

 

Want Mephisto on a shirt?

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Or Miranda?

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Mab on a mouse pad?

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Dread to guard your head? (With Gaius the Grumpy Sheep on the back)

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A cheer weasel bag or two to keep your spirits up? (Art by April Freeman)

cheer_bag_large_tote_bag-r7d88e5ddb3df4369b79c7802033fe31e_v9w72_8byvr_512 got_cheer_bag-rdb145b8542f341f0a0b215e066592e0b_v9w6h_8byvr_512

Rachel Griffin on a mug? (Two choices)

rachel_and_the_angel_two_tone_coffee_mug-r2fcde9471207459cb81883215783b85d_x7j1l_8byvr_512 rachel_aloft_two_tone_coffee_mug-ra7e5e3d2c210424aa92b9f14c02cdc3d_x7j1l_8byvr_512 

Maybe you are grumpy in the morning and you want something that compliments your mood. Try Gaius the Grumpy Sheep!

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Rammish!

Or maybe you like your hot drinks spicier–with Loralie from Iron Chamber of Memory?

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And in case all that coffee keeps you AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND…

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Time is running out to escape the Dark Tower!

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But we might survive if we can only Know Everything!

know_everything_green_t_shirt-r606bcc5c077b4daa9e29422ba42ca0d4_jf4s8_512 know_everything_t_shirt-r9ab30356e68947b2b5c85e133bec2951_jf4s8_512

 

Lot's more at The Wright Stuff

John C. Wright Collection

Prospero Collection

Roanoke Academy Collection

Moth and Cobwebs Collection

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September 17th, 2016

03:20 pm: Live Chat Now!

Come listen to us discuss World Con and the Dragon Awards.

On this Superversive Round table we have Dave Truesdale, ejected from World Con for upsetting snow flakes and Dragon Award winnders John C. Wright, Nick Cole and Brian Niemeier as well as the usual group.

We will be chatting about the Hugos and the Dragon awards.

Is the Hugo dead? Has the Dragon buried it?

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

September 13th, 2016

08:58 am: The Bifrost Between Calico and Gingham

pyewacket

I have been asked what the Puppies—Sad and Rabid alike—are objecting to? If they are not racist or homophobes—ie, if it is not the author's identity that they object to—why do they think that so many of the stories that have been winning the Hugo and the Nebula are receiving their awards for the wrong reasons?

I think I can explain. I will use, for my example, the short story that won the Hugo in 2016: “Cat Pictures Please.” 

(Spoilers below. If you haven't read "Cat Pictures Please" and wish to, you can find it here.)

bob

Science Fiction:
My overall take on “Cat Pictures Please”, as a science fiction story was that it was witty and clever but not that deep or original. It reminded me of a number of older short stories, including one of my all time favorites, “LOKI 7281” by Roger Zelazny, a witty story in which a personal computer is slowly trying to take control of more and more of its owner’s life (with the tagline: “He’ll never notice.”)

“Cat Pictures Please” has the distinction of portraying the waking AI as friendly. I found that refreshing.

While the premise was charming, I must admit I had trouble seeing why “Cat Pictures Please” was the best story of the year. I’d read stories last year that I thought were significantly better. It was cute, but I had trouble seeing how it measured up to “Scanners Live In Vain” or “Flowers For Algernon” or “Nine billion names of God.”

But I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt here. It is possible that many of these voting are young enough that they haven’t read the stories that made this one seem derivative to me. If so, this story would seem much more impressive.

And tastes differ.

That’s okay.

bacon

Politics:

There is something very comforting about reading a work that compliments our world view, especially if we feel (as everyone does, nowadays) that our world view is under attack.

There is a sense of: YES!

And: That’s exactly how it is!

Or even: Finally things are how they should be!

Reading something that does not agree with our world view, however, is not so satisfying. Our reactions tend to fall into two patterns. The first—the reaction for which all good speculative fiction strives—is: Oh! That’s why they see it that way. That's an angle that I had not considered. Hmm.

The second, alas, is: Oh, Gee, not this again! Really? What, do they expect me to just stand here while they poke me in the eye?

These are not Left/Right reactions. They are universal. I will demonstrate:

Abortion is a woman’s choice.

The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.*

If one of those two statements made you nod your head and smile, and the other made you wince, as if you’d been poked in the eye, you know exactly what I mean.

*–Kudos to whomever can identify what golden age SF book this second phrase comes from.

So, if a story agrees with our world view, we like it more. If it disagrees—but not in a way that expands our world view—we feel as if we’ve been poked in the eye.

There is one point I feel I must pause to make here. I have heard friends express the idea that it is good for people to read things they disagree with. It expands their mind.

If you happen to be a person who believes this, ask yourself when the last time was that you read an article expounding the opposing point-of-view, and it explanded your mind, rather than just annoying you?

What is effective is when we present our ideas to each other in a new way, from a different perspective. This is, in fact, what, historically, SF has been known for. But these have to be new ideas, ways of looking at the matter that the reader has not seen before. Presenting the same ideas that a reader has already examined and dismissed–be they Left or Right–does not have any effect upon the reader who disagrees with them except–yes, you guessed it! Ouch, my eye!

starshine-2

Cat Pictures Please and Politics.

“Cat Pictures Please” is a very Left-leaning story. For those who are unfamiliar with it, here are a few examples.

     The story acts as if porn (henti) addictions are common and accepted by all as normal.

    The AI dismisses the Ten Commandments and most religious morality in a paragraph.*

    It believes that psychological counseling is the best reaction to depression. This comes up quite a bit in the story.

   It tempts a pastor who looks at pictures of other men into an adulterous relationship with someone who knows him for the purpose of outing him with his wife, getting him a divorce, and moving him to a Liberal church, so that he can end the story happy, living with his male-lover.

If you yourself are Left-Leaning, this probably seems normal. If you are Right-Leaning, you’ve probably been just poked in the eye.

* — The AI dismisses the Ten Commandants with the line “I don’t envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck.

This, even though the AI goes on to help a human commit adultery. I would have enjoyed “Cat Pictures Please” more, if the story had given me the impression that the author did this on purpose—to show the limitations of an Internet-derived morality—or if I even had felt that the author was aware of the irony. Alas, I did not get this impression from the story, and this reduced my enjoyment of it.

mistletoe-2

So, to Left-Leaning readers, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, but perhaps new-to-them, SF premise, which also reinforces their idea of truth about the world and comes to a delightfully-satisfying conclusion.

The mixture of the simple SF premise, the wit, and the satisfying political leaning make it a very delightful story indeed.

To anyone who is Right-Leaning, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, and perhaps not-so-new-to-them, SF premise, which is full of concepts and moral choices that grate on them the wrong way, and the end is, while a bit amusing, rather unpleasant.

The first group says, “This is a great story!

The second group says, “Look, I’ll be fair and overlook all the pokes in the eye, but as I am regarding the story through my blurry, now-painful eyes, I want to see some really fantastic science fiction. Something that wows me so much that I am going to think it is worth putting next to “Nightfall” or “Harrison Bergeron.” And I just don’t see it.

 "Your stuff is not new. If you take today's problems and put them in space, that's not science fiction. You need the new, the controversial, to be SF. 

"Where is the stuff that’s going to shake my world and make me think, the way the Hugo winners of years gone by, such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, did?

 

To the first group, they want to give the award to the stories that really stayed with them, and they are judging this criteria on the whole effect of the story: SF premise and social statement combined.

To the second group, they want the story to stand on its SF premise alone, not on its social commentary. They are willing to read something they disagree with, but only if the science fiction is so awesome that it makes getting poked in the eye worth it.

 

*

I hope this explanation will help bridge the abyss currently gaping between Puppies and Non-Puppies, and contribute, if only in the slightest way, to the approach that glorious future day when we might once again return to what is really important, our mutual love of our awesome genre.

Dog and cat

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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September 12th, 2016

02:53 pm: Puppy of the Month Book Club!

A new online book club sets out to read and discuss Puppy titles. 

sadboompup

Puppy of the Month Book Club says of their criteria.

So what makes a book a viable candidate for Puppy Of the Month?  Easy:

  • Any novel nominated by the Sad Puppies for a Hugo nomination
  • Any novel nominated by the Rabid Puppies for a Hugo nomination
  • Any work listed in Appendix N of Gary Gygax's D&D Dungeon Master's Guide
  • Any work published by Castalia House
  • Any work selected by a Contributor that isn't shouted down by the rest of the contributors as an inappropriate selection

The only other criteria for selection is that the work has to be reasonably readable in two weeks, including shipping.  No 1,000 page magnum opuses.  Selected works should also be readily available, preferably through Gutenberg Project, Amazon.com, or one of the remaining major book chains.  Any work nominated that required multiple trips to boutique booksellers or 'knowing a guy what knows a guy' – if we can't all find it we can't all read it, and hence we can't all discuss it.

Nethereal

For their first month, they are reading Nethereal by Dragon Award winning author, Brian Niemeier. Since this is a book I helped edit, I could not be more delighted.

You can find out more — or join in! — here.

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September 11th, 2016

07:27 pm: Call for Reviewers for Tangent Online!

Posting a call for reviewers!

Tangent Online is looking for 5 new reviewers to fill slots made available by current reviewers going back to school to finish graduate degrees, or to begin or resume teaching duties. Knowledge of the SF/F field a must. Review or other writing experience (non-fiction or fiction) highly preferred but will work with the right person. Send examples if possible.

Tangent is a fanzine and does not pay. We do what we do for love of genre and have done so for 23 years (6 time Hugo nominee since 1993).

Applicants must be detail oriented and able to follow simple instructions as to formatting of reviews. Reviewers choose from a monthly list of magazines what they would like to review until the list is cleared. Review as much or as little as you wish.

Applicants send queries to Dave Truesdale, Editor, Tangent Online at: tangent.dt1@gmail.com

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