The Obelisk Gate

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Novel Ideas apologizes for the delay, but we return with a new episode on N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. This novel is the sequel to The Fifth Season, the Hugo award winner and a Novel Ideas favorite. We should warn you going in, since this is a recent publication, this episode is chock full of spoilers. In addition to spoilers, we also cover Chosen One plots, dark elements, shades of gray, and family. We also talk about how this story is not Harry Potter, adorable monsters, the importance of the moon, and how none of these characters are actually Gandalf.

The music bump is “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives in honor of all of the questions from the first book that were answered with more questions in the second book.

108 – The Obelisk Gate – Sympathetic Murderers

Our rating: A worthy follow up to the original with excellent depth of world building and characterization.

Ben: 10/10. I love the world building and the characters and anything else I forgot to mention.

Gabs: 9/10 moons. Darkness is slightly less shocking the second time around, but the complexity is great.

 

Me Before You

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Novel Ideas makes its return after too long away. This episode is about Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, a story about a quirky quirkster and a sad sack in a wheelchair. In this one we discuss ableism, depression, class, and assisted suicide, subjects which may cause you to feel icky. We also talk about our obscure theories (this book is secretly an eff you to rich people, this book is an anti-athlete author tract), what constitutes “a thing” (the internet, disabled people, therapy), why career counselors probably shouldn’t push you towards stripping, and that brief moment where Ben gets super judge-y.

The music bump is “The Queen Bee” by Sammy Nestico as performed by the Count Basie band.

107 – Me Before You – Feels Kinda Icky

Our recommendation: Reads easily enough, but you’ll feel icky if you think too hard about it.

Ben: 5/10 on the initial read, 3/10 by the time Gabs and I were done talking about it.

Gabs: 3/10 after we talked about it.

Holy crap, one of us did some research for this episode! Here are a couple of links that Gabs referenced:

Video:

http://youtu.be/Z9bkWJtm-mU

Articles:

http://cdrnys.org/blog/advocacy/hollywood-lies-i-prefer-my-disabled-girlfriend-alive/

http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2016/05/boycott-me-before-you-disability-death.html?m=1

Binti

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Novel Ideas returns with Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, the winner of the Nebula award in the novella category this year. In this episode, we discuss empathy, outsider perspectives, colonialism, and forgiveness. We also talk about the lack of snark, kindergarten level thinking, adult hair touching, and not being a hater.

The music bump is “All is Forgiven” by the Jellyfish, which is thematically appropriate in at least two ways.

106 – Binti – Angry Young Jellyfish at Space Harvard

Our review: Good to very good, a very simply told story. Gabs would like for the story to be more fleshed out, but nothing that is necessary is omitted. No ratings this time because I forgot to get one from Gabs before she disappeared into the wilderness for the month.

Since this is a recent publication, be mindful of our spoiler policy. Short version: we spoil everything.

Publishing Extravaganza Part 2

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Here is the second half of our conversation about the publishing industry, this time focusing on newspapers, magazines, and the internet. In this episode we discuss the possible death of newspapers, why magazines are still doing okay, clickbait, and whether the word “content” is overused. We also talk about how to break into the industry and our own tastes when it comes to content.

Music bump is still Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Publishing Special Part 2 – 4 Insane Publishing Theories

Publishing Extravaganza Part 1

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This week, on a very special Novel Ideas, Gabs has an important message for Ben. Is it time for Ben to finally kick his coke habit? No, it’s time to tell him everything she knows about the publishing industry. Well, as much as she can condense two years of school into two hours of podcast. This episode will air in two parts; the first part is (mostly) about books, the process of making a book, how new media effects the making and selling of books, and a mini-lesson on jargon.

The music bump is “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss. It was chosen for no particular reason other Ben couldn’t remember using it previously and felt like it was time because there’s no way Gabs is going to be talked into reading 2001 any time soon.

Publishing Special – 5 Mind-Blowing Facts About Publishing

The Secret Garden

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Welcome to the March edition of Novel Ideas, featuring The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In this episode we talk about the genre of the children’s novel, colonialism, subversions, and–need I say it?–feminism. We also discuss why Colin is kind of a dick, plot related illnesses, failed attempts at comic relief, and children’s dialogue. Gabs even did some research about the background of this novel. I know, try not to lose faith in us. We hope by the time you get to the end of this one, you’ve learned the secret behind the magic.

The music bump is Don Byron’s version of “The Royal Garden Blues.”

103 – The Secret Garden – Dickon Around the Garden

Our ratings:

An easy classic and an early entry in the non-religious children’s book canon, it’s probably worth your time.

Ben: 7/10. Isn’t bad, definitely won’t change your life. Another classic that is easy to discuss.

Gabs: 8/10. Minus 2 points for Colin.

The Color Purple

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The Novel Ideas roulette wheel landed on a classic this month, so we’re back with The Color Purple by Alice Walker. In this episode we discuss racism, injustice, abuse, and other upsetting things. We also talk about the cold open, black comedy, down home cookin’, and laughably ineffective missionaries.

The music bump is Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington’s band performing “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” based on our unresearched speculation regarding how this book became a musical.

102 – The Color Purple – Coming of (Old) Age

Our ratings:

Ben: Purple/10. Which is the best rating, I think. I don’t really understand that part of the rating system. But I would definitely recommend this one.

Gabs: 9/10 for literary value. Also worth reading for the purpose of making yourself less shitty.