Armchair BEA 2014, Day Three: Novellas/Short Stories

With last night, so closeth day two of Armchair BEA. The primary topics of focus were author interactions and forms of expression that go beyond mere words. 

The second topic resonated with me in particular, and I decided to chat a bit about the format of comics/graphic novels. 

If anything was derived from the many discussions yesterday, it's that reading/storytelling can come in many different forms. Which is perhaps why it's apt that today's topic encourages everyone to think beyond the full-length novel and explore...

Novellas/Short Stories

Now it is time to give a little love to those little stories in your life. Share your love for your favorite shorts of any form. What is a short story or novella that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves? Recommend to readers what shorts you would recommend they start with. How about listing some short story anthologies based upon genres or authors? 

+ Fiction = <3
Much like I'd noted yesterday, this is such a timely topic for me, personally. For the last month or so I've been reading almost exclusively short stories. Science fiction shorts, to be exact. It began with an awesomely fun experience in April at AwesomeCon 2014 in Washington, DC. It was a gathering of thousands of fans of all things geek culture. I'd attended several panels discussing speculative fiction. Such wonderful dialogues about the most beloved of sci fi novels, with fascinating info about the master authors of science fiction, it spurred me to reread old favorites and check out new-to-me stories. Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang... reading stories from these authors was a delight.

Science fiction in particular can lend itself very well to the short story format. One might think the opposite is true, given that science fiction can tend to be particular about...well, the science, and technical detail to worldcrafting. But some of the most enjoyable spec fic short stories that come to mind are those that focus less on building a world than on building a scenario that hints at an immense world beyond. With short stories in general, there's a lot less "storytelling baggage" that can often plague full-length novels And with speculative fiction short stories, there's the added benefit of being able to pitch the tentpole of reality wherever desired! (Is the baseline reality that we live on Mars and speaking telepathically? Well, all rightie then, perfect!)

If looking for a place to start in checking out short stories--especially in speculative fiction--I'd recommend reading some of the public domain works of Philip K. Dick. His stories "The Hanging Stranger" and "The Crystal Crypt" are exciting and supremely chilling, while "The Skull" and "The Defenders" weave in really impactful messages with unexpected resonance.

I'd also recommend checking out speculative fiction magazines like Strange Horizons and Asimov's Science Fiction (or one that I'm fond of for personal reasons, Penumbra  eMag) provide a diverse set of stories on a recurring basis, and from both new and established talent.


How about you? Do you often read novellas or short stories? Are they easier/more difficult to access, to enjoy? What are some of your favorite short stories?

Armchair BEA 2014, Day Two: More Than Just Words

Day One of Armchair BEA was fantastic! There were so many bloggers participating with introduction posts and discussions about literature and reading. 

It was a pleasure to "cheerlead" and visit many of the blogs to contribute to the many excellent conversations underway. Found many new book quotes and TBR pile additions...and learned a lot about how the notions of what "literature" means to differs to people.

Today, the collective focus turns to the more acute concept of words--that is, the use of words in concert with other forms of expression...

More Than Just Words

There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats? 

In purely personal terms, this particular topic seems to come at a perfect time. I've recently rekindled an old love for comics, thanks to a couple of super astute family members who gifted me with a couple volumes of the series Saga. (They may not have known it, but growing up I was a total Image comics fangirl, so their gift couldn't have been better chosen.)

Certainly, the purely written word holds so much potential for the individual imagination, for better or for worse. There seems to be so much power inherent in the fact that its up to the reader to invest energy into drawing those final images and directing the inner film from the "script" that an author provides. That said, graphic novels/comics can go one step further in developing the author's visual intent; it helps set up a scene in such a way that words are no longer needed as much to convey feelings and emotions. Sure, the reader still needs to contribute their imagination to produce that final moving image, but some of that is helped with the layout of frames, the depiction of movement, the use of color or black & white, water color or digital ink. If pictures are worth a thousand words, comics can be just as potent--if not more so--in the imagination they foster. The sky is still very much the limit.

Now, the leap from books to film (live action in particular) or from comic to film can be immensely enjoyable and impactful, but I think that there are more limitations imposed by reality. That particular actor can only play a vampire for so long before he ages, making for a visual paradox. And there's only so much that a young actor can do or say before things like age appropriateness come into play (one reason why a film like Ender's Game could never be adapted in more literal form). That's perhaps why for my part, I am often wary of film adaptations even as I'd be curious about a graphic novel adaptation of a book (or live action movie/show! Ex. Buffy the Vampire Slayer; woot!).

I know, I know. Doesn't make a terrible lot of sense, but there ya go. :-)

Armchair BEA 2014, Day One: Introductions

It's that time again...

Armchair BEA! The e-con of sorts that accompanies festivities for Book Expo America, the huge book trade convention that takes place in New York City. 

Armchair BEA is to begin just a tad earlier to get everyone revved up for festivities. So without further ado, let's start with introductions (where would my manners be otherwise?):


What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?  

Here's the thing: 2013 (and even 2012) were personally somewhat turbulent times reading-wise, so the pool from which to select a top title is limited. That said, the book that made me really sit up, made me loathe to leave it was The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. This year, I really enjoye Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I now understand why it's near or at the top of many people's best-of-historical-romance lists.

What is your favorite blogging resource?  

Oh, without a doubt, Goodreads. What would I do without it? I'm still quite put out that Amazon acquired it (yeah I know, I own a Kindle! lol But I felt GR might've lost some of the entrepreneurial soul it had by being consumed by the great corporate beast that is AMZ. Remember the crazy censorship crackdown of 2013? yeah. that.)

Spread the love by naming your favorite blogs/bloggers (doesn’t necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers).  

A few fab blogs I love are Parajunkee's View, the ladies at Badass Book Reviews, the folks over at All Things Urban Fantasy, and ExLibris.

One blog that I had long loved is About Happy Books. The blog's mistress, Sabrina, hails from Germany and is as bright and sweet as the happy books she writes about. She is a true book lover, and I have to bow down to someone who buys far more than she receives gratis, especially given that she reads a few hundred a year (nothing wrong with getting ARCs and review copies. but I know she doesn't buy idly!). A couple months ago Sabrina announced that she was going to take a step back from active blogging (and man, do I ever understand her difficult decision), but I still reference her reviews.

Share your favorite book or reading related quote.  

“The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one.”      ― James Goldsmith

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why?  

The first two are easy: my two favorite books, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Pride and Prejudice. Both are books that have always affected me deeply when I've read them, so they'd be great for breaking up the monotony of my little deserted island.

As for the third... Do anthologies /collections count? :-) If so, I'd say a good robust science fiction anthology. Or no, maybe like a single-volume collection of the Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Prydain series. Something that would allow me to escape into a large and fully realized world, to really get to know its cast of characters.

When it comes to desert island scenarios, I can get so pragmatic as to suck the fun out of the pondering. So my non book items would perhaps include a windup flashlight, a portable de-desalinization thingie (which almost certainly doesn't exist, but hey neither does the reality of the scenario! Lol), and a Swiss Army knife.

(Told ya. Snore! ^_^)

And though I'm burying the question somewhat:

Describe your blog in just one sentence.  

Nothing fancy or official, just a place to gush/vent/ponder occasionally about books and the act of reading.

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