Friday 13 May 2011

Friday Flash - Something Blue

Thanks to the maintenance outage that left Blogger down, I put this week's Friday Flash, Something Blue, over on my secondary blog - my mild OCD didn't want me to miss a Friday posting.

Normally I use my Cultural Carnival to discuss films or exhibitions, but this week it's hosting my flash. With any luck, things will be back to normal as of today! In addition, I'll be posting a "Making Of" entry on Tuesday discussing today's flash.

However, due to a peculiarity of Wordpress, I couldn't get the Audioboo box to load properly, so feel free to use the player below if you'd like to hear me narrate this week's flash.


Tuesday 10 May 2011

[Book Review] Must Love Dragons

If you say "elves" and "dragons" in the same breath as "fantasy", most people will think Tolkien, or something along those lines. Well who says fantasy has to be so po-faced and formulaic? Why can't it Thankfully Monica Marier must have been thinking the same thing when she wrote Must Love Dragons.

Must Love Dragons tells the story of Linus Weedwhacker, a half-elf Ranger married to a shapeshifting dragon. He's given up his job to look after the kids while his wife runs a successful jewellery store - already very progressive for a genre in which most women are relegated to damsels, scheming queens or evil witches. When his wife falls pregnant again, she goes off to stay with her bad-tempered reptilian mother, and Linus goes back to work as a Ranger. Is it easy? No! There again, there would be no fun in it if it was.

Linus must team up with an enthusiastic young elf named Morfindel, and elven siblings Wendria and Bart to rid a village of a nearby infestation. Wendria is an academic but useless in the field, Bart has issues with authority, and Morfindel is...well, he's Morfindel, and absolutely lovable despite being utterly clueless. Linus is forced to play Dad while keeping them, and himself, out of trouble. Clearly the job of a Ranger is fraught with peril, involving a spot of bother with frost dragons, food poisoning and even political shenanigans.

Must Love Dragons is no kiddie quest story, with Linus appearing more as a 'John McClane in Middle Earth' character. In fact, the one thing missing from the book is a "Yippee-kai-ay!" Anyone who has ever encountered even a smidgen of bureaucratic nonsense in the workplace will surely sympathise with the various predicaments in which he finds himself, and the fact that he is so curmudgeonly just makes him so much more appealing as a hero. In fact, he's more like Snake Plisskin. He just wants to do the job and go home, and can everyone just leave him alone when he's finished?

The dialogue is sparky, and more than one passage had me chuckling. The action scenes crack along at an impressive rate, and the pacing makes this a real page-turner. Linus is a likeable protagonist, although he's occasionally upstaged by the earnest Morfindel. Must Love Dragons scores in that it is so heavily rooted in fantasy mores (musty village shops, elves, magic, dragons etc.) yet happily up-ends the whole lot to bring a touch of humour and humanity to an occasionally staid genre. Anyone for a spot of comedy-fantasy?

You can buy Must Love Dragons from Lulu or Amazon.

Monica Marier is a caffeinated writer, artist, mother and eccentric. On weekdays, she's busy working on her books, recording audio files, and composing serials and short stories for her blog. On weekends she's a co-founder of Tangent Artists, a webcomic company where she writes and does art for 3 comic series.

Her book Must Love Dragons is now on-sale through Lulu, Amazon, and upon request at Barnes & Noble. The sequel Runs in Good Condition is now available for pre-order through Hunt Press. Her serial, Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid is now running in the e-zine Dr. Fantastique’s Show of Wonders.

Monday 9 May 2011

Photo Prompt 32

Latest prompt, ready and waiting.

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The thirty-second prompt is Sun Dial.

Sun Dial

All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy my prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity - the other 80% go towards my PhD fees!