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Showing posts from May, 2019

Game Theory

"It never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened," quotes Aaron Bady in his review of "The Last of the Starks", the fourth episode of the just-concluded eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. Aaron--whose reviews this season, alongside Sarah Mesle and Philip Maciak, have remained the gold standard for talking about this much-talked-about show--is referring to the battle against the army of the dead in the previous episode, whose fallen are eulogized in "Last"'s opening scene. "This is why the show needed those fiery pyres and a big speech from Jon about how no one will ever forget; otherwise, we might notice and be shocked that it didn't matter, that everyone is going to forget, and that it never happened." But in a way that he might not even have realized at the time, he is also articulating the approach of the entire season. Rather than tying off and concluding its storylines, in its final season Game of Thron…

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

When Marlon James announced that his next project would be an African-set, epic fantasy trilogy, I have to admit that my reaction was skepticism. I first encountered James when I read his second novel, The Book of Night Women (2009), which used heady language and uncompromising descriptions of violence to address the physical and psychological impact of slavery on its victims. It marked James out as an author to follow. But I've been a genre fan for a while, and I've seen too many authors come from the outside—from literary fiction, or from outside of fantasy—and get heralded as the ones who are going to save epic fantasy from itself. Especially in the current moment, in which there are so many authors testing the boundaries of what epic fantasy can do—people like Sofia Samatar, Kai Ashante Wilson, Jeannette Ng, K. Arsenault Rivera—I wasn't really certain what James, with all his skill, could bring to the table.

On the other hand, one obvious answer to that question could …