Do you know why you write fantasy?

In his 1916 essay (not published until 1956) The Transcendent Function the psychologist Carl Jung describes his system of ‘active imagination’, the technique at the heart of the psychological process he named individuation. Put very simply, active imagination means to dive down in to our imagination and to bring back from it visions, dreams andContinue reading “Do you know why you write fantasy?”

Ursula K Le Guin : stories for the ages

The power of Le Guin’s work will surely guarantee it an audience for centuries to come. A century from now people will still be reading the fantasy stories of Ursula K Le Guin with joy and wonder. Five centuries from now they might ask if their author ever really existed, or if Le Guin wasContinue reading “Ursula K Le Guin : stories for the ages”

Live-writing challenges the writerly ego…which is a very good thing

The rules were simple. Keep to the scheduled study hours, always wash your mug, and under no circumstances touch the coltan. So far Aidan had kept a clean sheet on all counts. Now he was planning to commit the only serious possible infraction. And that did not mean coffee rings on work surfaces. Aidan’s RockContinue reading “Live-writing challenges the writerly ego…which is a very good thing”

The battle for geek culture

As a fan of fantasy fiction, it’s been entertaining watching mainstream cultural critics’ baffled responses to Game of Thrones, which has surprised many by becoming the biggest show on TV this year. Gina Bellafante of the New York Times was among the first to come a cropper when she made the rash statement that noContinue reading “The battle for geek culture”

Look after your brain. They don’t issue new ones.

Bobby Fischer was arguably the greatest chess player of all time. American chess champion at 14, grandmaster at 15, world champion at 28. A brilliant but brief career cut short by schizophrenia. By the time of his death in 2008 Fischer was a ranting, anti-semetic caricature of insanity. There are a number of possible reasonsContinue reading “Look after your brain. They don’t issue new ones.”

How to bend the masses to your will with words alone

The internet, being composed of 50% text and 50% raw naked ambition, is full of how-tos and guidelines on ways to manipulate the written word to achieve your raw naked ambitions. They are called things like How to Write Compelling Content for the Web or 73 Ways to Manipulate the Weak Willed With the PowerContinue reading “How to bend the masses to your will with words alone”

The Unspecified Reader

[pullquote]I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person, but with an unspecified number of readers. Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I talk About Running [/pullquote] So a captain is married to her ship, and a novelist is married to her readers. Earlier thisContinue reading “The Unspecified Reader”

Secondary World Problems

You know, those things which are only an issue if you happen to be the denizen of a world created in the imagination of a jobbing fantasy author. Or an ageing English academic. Or a frustrated fan trying to turn pro author. A secondary world always tells you more about the inside of the authorsContinue reading “Secondary World Problems”

Why English culture is bewitched by magic

From Merlin to Harry Potter, English magic has a long tradition. But what does it say about today’s culture? English occultist, bohemian and author Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will”. Crowley’s will was aided by the inheritance age 11 of a tidy fortune,Continue reading “Why English culture is bewitched by magic”

The value of reading, and the cost of ignorance

Yesterday I watched the great Bali Rai read a story aloud to twenty-thousand people at the Walker’s stadium at half-time of the Leice ster vs. Scunthorpe match. I’m not sure what the people of Scunthorpe made of it, but the football fans of Leicester loved it, and took away thousands of copies of the storyContinue reading “The value of reading, and the cost of ignorance”