Thursday, May 26, 2016

Phoenix Comicon 2016 is Coming!

It’s that time of year again…comicon time! Though neither S nor I made it to BEA this year, I will be making the summerly sojourn to Phoenix Comicon in about a week to partake of their lovely books and authors programming track. (I tried to entice S into joining me, craftily using her love of the Animaniacs against her—voice actors from the show will be there this year—but alas, it was to no avail.) It seems like this year there won’t quite as many big name SFF author guests at the con as there have been in previous years, but there will still be plenty to see and do and experience. I could seriously probably attend booksy-authory panels back-to-back the entire convention and still miss out on half the programming on that track. Two very big names will be attending again—Pat Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson. I’m not a superfan of Sanderson’s work (I know, I know…unpopular opinion), but I am a big Rothfuss fan, and I think it will be especially cool to hear what he has to say coming off the recent and highly successful Tak kickstarter.

But anyway—who and what am I most looking forward to about this year’s PHXCC? Let’s see…

    So, if you’ve seen me on the blog or social media lately, you have probably witnessed my recent obsession with her books, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows. Ummmmm I may have just actually bought her entire bibliography (well, almost) on Amazon because I was so in love with those two books. DON’T JUDGE ME. Anyway, shortly after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I found out she was doing a signing in my city…the previous week. In a fit of despair at missing out, I randomly checked on the Phoenix Comicon page and, lo and behold, she was listed as a guest! I am super excited to hear what she has to say about the writing life and any tidbits about the upcoming A Conjuring of Light and This Savage Song. Woot!

  2. Hooray, I’ll be able to get the last book in the Red Rising trilogy signed!
    Pierce Brown will be back at PHXCC this year. Red Rising was awesome, Golden Son was the best thing I read last year, and I’m currently prolonging my reading of Morning Star because I don’t want the series to end. (I suppose I should finish it by next week, though, so I don’t get inadvertently spoiled at panels.) At any rate, Pierce Brown is a fantastic storyteller and writer, and I’m eager to see what’s in store for him next. (And also deathly afraid of what might happen by the end of Morning Star.)

    There will be lots of old favorites and new faces as well as far as the author lineup goes, but if you really twisted my arm for a top two list of authors I’m looking forward to, thar it be. Now, what panels look intriguing, you ask? Well, let me tell you! Beyond the spotlight panels on various superfan-squee-inducing authors, I am looking forward to…

  3. Adventuring Parties, Still Cool? (featuring Patrick Rothfuss, Sam Sykes, Sarah Remy, and Todd Lockwood). “The world of fantasy has long been defined by the Fellowship but in a post Dragonlance world, does the adventuring party still have a place in epic fantasy?”

    Points for best panel name ever. I was sold on that alone. Also, I bet you a dollar Rat Queens comes up during the panel discussion.

  4. Del Rey Superfight (featuring Kevin Hearne, Michael J. Sullivan, Pierce Brown, and Scott Sigler). “Superfight! 3 authors enter, 1 author leaves…join Del Rey in our new favorite gaming tradition.”

    Watching favorite authors go all cutthroat on each other in pursuit of a win at the tabletop game Superfight was a blast last year—just as hilarious as Author Batsu, if not more so. Can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. BSing has never been so fun!

  5. Would You Lie to Me (featuring Beth Cato, Brandon Sanderson, Jason Hough, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sam Sykes, Scott Sigler, and V.E. Schwab). “Authors lie for a living, but are they any good at knowing when they are being lied to? Hosted by Jason Hough, our two teams of authors will try to outwit each other and discern fact from fiction.”

    Apparently I really, really like panels that run a little bit like game shows.

  6. Mythology and Folklore (featuring Alyssa Wong, Joseph Nassise, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Todd Lockwood). “Fantasy has always borrowed heavily from the myths and legends around the globe. As the genre expands, so too do the myths we draw upon. Our panelists discuss their favorite legends throughout history and how they use them in their work.”

    As a lifelong mythnerd, this is immensely appealing to me. I mean, one of my life ambitions is to join the Mythopoeic Society. In what world would I not be attending this panel?

  7. Guilty Pleasure Tropes (featuring Christina Henry, Gini Koch, Patrick Rothfuss, and Tom Leveen). “Weird magic, awkward relationships, witty banter; everyone’s got a favorite trope, even if it’s sometimes a dirty word. Our authors talk about the tropes we’re most embarrassed about but just can’t quit.”

    Serendipitous, because as S and I have been recently plotting a ridiculous romance novel (seriously ridiculous—it was inspired by word scrambles that sound like fancy names), it has come to my attention that I have a talent for generating tropes. S assures me this is perfectly acceptable—nay, required—for the romance genre, and I bow to her expertise on the subject.

  8. Fantasy Draft League (featuring Alexandra Oliva, Austin Aslan, Beth Cato, Lexie Dunne, Ryan Dalton, and Scott Sigler). “Fantasy football. Hold the football. Our authors assemble an adventuring party from fantasy characters and duke it out to determine the one bracket to rule them all.”

    What fun!! This sounds similar to something S was telling me about earlier this year that happened at her local library (she was hunting for a good cleric—she came up with Melisandre, and I came up with Lirael).

  9. Embarrassing Author Con Stories (featuring Kevin Hearne, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Rothfuss, Pierce Brown, Sam Sykes, and Shannon Messenger). “Everyone’s got one. Sometimes they witnessed it. Sometimes they were a part of it. Sometimes they caused it. Our authors relive hilariously awkward and light-heartedly embarrassing experiences at conventions.”

    Ah, looks like more comedy gold. Who doesn’t love a little schadenfreude?

So much to see and do, and it all starts next Thursday! I can’t help but feel woefully unprepared, but it’s looking to be a busy, crazy, awesome weekend-after-Memorial-Day-weekend. Who are you most excited about at the con? Which panels sound the most intriguing? Hit up the comments and let us know!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Nobody Likes a Goblin

Title: Nobody Likes a Goblin
Author: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Read: May 2016
Where It Came From: Print ARC received via Goodreads Giveaways
Genre: Fantasy-children’s-picture-book
Rating: 4.5 Honk-Honks

I was so happy to receive a review copy of this picture book through a Goodreads Giveaway. I’ve never read anything else by Ben Hatke (though his Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels have always looked intriguing), but the cover art and the blurb were delightful. And now that I’ve read the book, I can confirm that it is delightful as well!

In the story, cute little Goblin is minding his own business, living in his dungeon and hanging out with his friend Skeleton, when a band of mean, nasty adventurers invades and takes everything—even Skeleton! So Goblin bravely goes out into the world to rescue his friend, though he has been warned to be careful, because nobody likes a goblin. The reversal of the typical order of things in a fantasy story here is fun, with Goblin and other monsters as the heroes, and the adventurers and townsfolk as the thoughtless, greedy villains. I love the humor in both the words and the pictures, and the illustrations add richness and depth to the story, with plenty of interesting things to notice and talk about that never come up in the text. Like the woman who is on the adventurers’ cart full of looted treasure!! What happened there?!

My favorite part, though, had to be Honk-Honk. As Goblin starts off on his adventure, he asks a neighboring hill troll if he saw which way the adventurers took Skeleton, and as she points him in the right direction, she mentions that they took her Honk-Honk away with them (which of course, sweet Goblin that he his, he promises to bring back). At the time there is no other context, and I was like, “...what’s a Honk-Honk?” But later, when Goblin finds the adventurers and their cart of spoils, when you look at the illustration, there is a goose in a cage amongst the riches (and next to the random captive woman)! Honk-Honk!!! Honk-Honk plays his (or her) part in chasing off the baddies and is eventually returned to the hill troll, and they join Goblin and their other new friends for a meal at home in the dungeon at the very end of the book. Cute, funny little details like that make this story a pleasure from start to finish.

Dungeons and Dragons, RPG-loving parents (or even just parents who are fantasy fans) would probably love to share this with their children. Even grown-ups without children will find much to love in this book and could give it a nice home on their shelf. Older, elementary-age children would understand the humor in the reversal of the good guy/bad guy roles, but younger children could enjoy the story, too (though it’s probably not one I would choose for a 5-and-under storytime program—I think that a grown-up and child would get more out of it by sharing the story as a pair).

*As ever, much as we are grateful for the copy, our review is uninfluenced by its source.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cool Stuff: Tak on Kickstarter

In the past couple weeks, I have come across lots of really, really cool book-related stuff in my wanderings around the interwebs. Stuff that made me think, “This is a thing?? This is amazing! How did I not know about this?!” And then I would frantically text Susan or whichever friend I thought would most appreciate it to share the awesomeness I had stumbled upon. And that got me thinking—with all the really nifty, book-related stuff out there for one to come across mostly randomly and fortuitously (one might say like meeting a tinker upon the road?), why not have a new blog feature for sharing the very, very coolest of things like that that I come across? And thus, the creatively titled “Cool Stuff” genre of posts was born.

First up: The game Tak, from Pat Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle books, is becoming a real thing on Kickstarter. In fact, it already is a thing, with rules and instructions for creating your own game to start playing before the Kickstarter is even over.

If you are at all into fantasy novels, you’ve probably heard of these books, if not nommed them like a voracious reading beast. I’m sure I’ve written little blurbs about them here on RTET in the past, but it’s Sunday and I’m feeling too lazy to link to those past posts—suffice to say, they are very, very good (the books, not the posts). They’re the kind of books with a whole wonderful world that you could just crawl into. Good world-building, man. I am powerless to resist it. And it is so, SO cool when things from a beloved, so-well-crafted-as-to-feel-real fictional world make the jump and become real things in our world. (See also this article by Elizabeth Wein on the Book Smugglers site for further treatment of this topic.)

So. Tak. It was introduced in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book of Rothfuss’ series, and is described by protagonist Kvothe as being “simple it its rules, complex in its strategy.” And now Rothfuss and game designer extraordinaire James Ernest of Cheapass Games have actually created it! It is an abstract strategy game for two players (ahem, I am learning so much about different genres of games and what they’re called these days), and it looks awesome. Fun for book fans, and also fun for people who like games and maybe know nothing about the books. I will be backing this Kickstarter for sure.

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