Author Archives: Mike

Just Like Starting Over

FA MaddAddam

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Most mainstream speculative sci-fi follows a handful of basic storylines, roughly speaking, the efforts of Good Guys to prevent, survive, overthrow or reverse social orders or apocalyptic events, typically caused by Bad Guys. America’s latest favorite, The Hunger Games, is first about surviving and overthrowing. The Matrix trilogy is about overthrow and reverse. The Terminator franchise has explored all of these areas with varying degrees of success.

In literature, George Orwell’s 1984 is, on its surface, about overthrowing. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is about surviving. Margaret Atwood has a well-deserved reputation as a master of the form, and while her works are typically a cut above the rest, they still fall into the usual categories. Her best known book The Handmaid’s Tale is, in its unique way, about surviving and overthrowing. More recently, she has written a trilogy of speculative sci-fi about the collapse of a near future dystopia. The first two entries fit into the broad categories of prevention and survival. But the final book, MaddAddam, is an exception — to the trilogy and the sci-fi mainstream.  Continue reading

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Book of Today: His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman.

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Today is the birthday 405th birthday of the poet John Milton, who wrote the line “His dark materials to create more worlds” in Book II of Paradise Lost, the great work from which Philip Pullman took his inspiration and his title in writing the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Reportedly, Pullman was attempting to write a version of Paradise Lost that would be accessible to teenagers. Whether he managed such a feat is debatable, but the results were good enough to be our Book of Today.

- Michael Moats

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Did You Hear? Black Friday

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it ’til
I satisfy my soul

- Michael Moats

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American Werewolf in Peril

FA Red Moon

I’m happy to recommend that you read Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon — but, well… I’ll get to that.

Red Moon is a smart variation on the theme, extremely popular of late, of bringing childhood heroes and monsters into adult life. Rather than a gritty Batman wrestling with the morality of vigilante justice, or emo vampires wrestling with awful dialogue, we have werewolves, and the many ways that their existence would spread turmoil in normal civic dynamics.  Continue reading

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Book of Today: Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills.

Lincoln_at_Gettysburg_The_Words_That_Remade_America_book_cover

I realize we’ve used Garry Wills before, but there really is no better book to read on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It’s almost certainly the finest book ever written about one of the finest speeches ever given.

- Michael Moats

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Book of Today: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

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Today in 1942, a group of Americans boarded a beached German U-boat, the U-559, and recovered information that helped the Allied forces crack the German Enigma encryption.

The incident and the Enigma code — and code cracking in general — play a major role in Neal Stephenson’s excellent novel Cryptonomicon.

 

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Book of Today: Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas

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Today is the 71st birthday of Hungarian author Peter Nadas, who wrote the extremely long and extremely well-loved book Parallel Stories. It was the best book I didn’t read in 2011. Same for 2012 and almost certainly 2013 as well.

If, like me, you are totally planning to someday get around to reading it, perhaps today is the day.

This was also the day in 1322 that Robert the Bruce won a decisive battle against England, forcing King Edward II to recognize Scottish independence. So you if you are looking for a different long but relevant project for today, you can just watch “Braveheart.”

- Michael Moats

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Alice Munro wins the Nobel

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The internet has been lighting up recently with things Jonathan Franzen hates. Well here’s something he will love, and we can only hope it gets to him on whatever mode of communication he finds least annoying, like a rotary phone or a handwritten letter:

Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

As of a few hours ago, Munro was second in the running according to London oddsmaker Ladbroke. She was a 4-1 favorite, behind Haruki Murakami, who had a 5-2 chance of winning — but didn’t.  Either  way, these two leading contenders demonstrate the value of basically writing the same kind of story over and over again.

Other possibilities were Joyce Carol Oates and Peter Nadas, both 8-1 odds, Thomas Pynchon at 12-1, and Bob Dylan, who was at 50-1 but is more likely to write a song in which the nominees and/or their character feature prominently than to actually win the prize.

Munro is said to have retired after the release of her last book Dear Life. But if she does pick up the pen again, we at Fiction Advocate look forward to reading more stories about a young woman who grew up poor in Canada, leaves home, gets married, explores her sensuality, commits adultery, gets divorced, and wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read more about Munro here. And this is why we know Franzen will be happy.

- Michael Moats 

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