world building

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.

 

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Girl in the Road

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Novel Ideas is back for another month of sibling book-related antics. This time with The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. We chose this book as part of our ongoing campaign to read more fiction about and/or by non-white, non-male authors. In this episode we discuss women in science fiction, elements of good world building, travel narratives, and feminism. We also talk about partially digested (probably not) snakes, how not to share your Golden Meaning, give advice on whether to murder (hint: no), and strange personal belief systems.

The music bump is “The Road” by Tenacious D.

98 – Girl in the Road – Classic Cotagonists

Our rating:

A different spin on the travel narrative with an ending full of “wat.”

Ben: 7/10. Not knowing what was going on for at least half of the story did not prevent me from enjoying it.

Gabs: 7/10. Points for the concept, but deductions for the confusion.

The Neverending Story

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This week on Novel Ideas, we discuss The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, a fantasy/YA classic that many people remember fondly from their childhood. Of course, we never read it as children. Listen to the episode to hear us talk about classic v. modern YA, Mary Sue characters, fate and luck and how they effect problem solving, and world building. And possibly feminism. We also discuss generic hero boys, Fantastican revisionism, unannoying Tom Bombadil, and the power of love.

The music bump is Frank Mantooth’s version of “Imagination,” a tune that I used for a previous episode but didn’t remember until it was too late. If you never listen again, I won’t blame you.

The Neverending Story – Three Dub

Recommendations:

A story full of ideas and imagination that isn’t fully developed and ultimately goes nowhere.

Gabs: 6/10 for the first half, 3/10 for the second half.

Ben: 3/10 for going 200 pages past the point where I cared.

World War Z

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Welcome back to the zombie apocalypse. Or almost apocalypse. This week on Novel Ideas, we read World War Z by Max Brooks. This book is a little bit different from other books that we’ve read in that it doesn’t really have characters or a plot, but is instead written in the style of an oral history. Because of that, we changed our format slightly for this week’s episode. We talked about the movie, the breakdown of society, the nature of celebrity, and gender balance. We also discussed zombie tropes, the fact that dogs hate zombies, historical zombie fiction, and zombie war psychology. Basically, we discussed everything zombie related we could think of.

The music bump is “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden, used to bait zombies at the Battle of Hope.

Recommendations:

An interesting and compelling book about 80-90% of the time. It drags just a little at the end, but not enough to put a damper on the experience of reading it. The book includes some excellent world building in telling a well covered genre story in a different way.

Ben: 8.5/10

Gabs: 8/10

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Novel Ideas Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. (Turns out all of them are by J.K. Rowling, go figure.) In this episode, we discuss the longest (thus far) book in the series, covering some topics we’ve already visited, such as wizard racism, and some topics that you would assume we’ve covered, such as feminism. Not to mention editing errors, elaborate villain schemes, the importance of world building, and whether 700 pages is too long. And that’s before we get into Draco’s secret pain, shaving mishaps, face punching, and whether Voldemort would be even creepier with a weird mustache. We hope you enjoy!

The music bump is Mike Relm’s “Harry Potter Remix of Death,” one of many Harry Potter remixes floating around the internet.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Recommendations:

I probably don’t even have to mention that we highly recommend this book, but just in case, we highly recommend this book.

The Left Hand of Darkness

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This week’s episode is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin, a novel about a genderless society on a harsh, winter planet. Join us as we discuss the effects of a sexless society, the lack of warfare, and repression, both sexual and governmental. We also talk about ridiculous sci-fi names, gender bending, and pronoun problems.

The music bump is “Journey Home” by Maria Schneider, partly because of the hundred page journey home across the glaciers of Gethen, but mostly because I like it.

For those of you who have read the book already, here’s something interesting that I found:

Dubnicky-Gethen-1200x659