Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

02 Aug 2016, 9:26 a.m.

A Few Thoughts On Recent Scifi/Fantasy

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2016 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Star Trek Beyond is actually a Star Trek movie rather than an arbitrary summer blockbuster wearing Starfleet paint. (I thought the MacGuffin was going to be the resonator from "Gambit" but the movie ended up being more like "The Wounded". Actual Trek episodes! Yay!)

Naomi Novik's Uprooted features a grand library of magic-related books. In this scene a young woman is seeking writings by the magician who most inspires her, a woman named Jaga, or by magicians like her, and speaks with the disapproving Father Ballo:

"Are there any other spellbooks like Jaga's here, that I might look in?" I asked, even though I knew Ballo didn't have any use for her.

"My child, this library is the heart of the scholarship of magic in Polnya," he said. "Books are not flung onto these shelves by the whim of some collector, or through the chicanery of a bookseller; they are not here because they are valuable, or painted in gold to please some noble's eye. Every volume added has been carefully reviewed by at least two wizards in the service of the crown; their virtues have been confirmed and at least three correct workings attested, and even then they must be of real power to merit a place here. I myself have spent nearly my entire life of service pruning out the lesser works, the curiosities and the amusements of earlier days; you will certainly not find anything like that here."

..... [some of the excluded works] seemed perfectly reasonable formal spellbooks to me, but evidently hadn't met Father Ballo's more rigorous standards.

Father Ballo is the fantasy equivalent of a Wikipedia deletionist. Indeed, given Novik's love of fandom and the internet, I would venture to guess that she's aware of the echo and doing it deliberately.

And a few recent short stories to recommend: