If we were having coffee…

White Chocolate Mocha

But what is the son but an extension of the father? 
-Frank Herbert, Dune

If we were having coffee, I would be having a white chocolate mocha. It’s my favorite, it’s my weakness, it’s my flavor. (The picture above is today’s white mocha.)

It’s not just my drink. It’s my dad’s drink. I always joke that I have his taste buds and, if we were having coffee, I’d probably tell you that… and tell you that I should probably give my dad his taste buds back.

I have a lot of great memories of my dad and I drinking white mochas together, too. We would always try to get them before going to tournaments. We played Warhammer Fantasy together. We would usually be the first ones to a tournament or a con, precisely because we had to leave early enough to stop and get a white mocha. To be ready for the day.

My dad and I played other games together, as well. The original Diablo. Magic: The Gathering. And many other games that we played simultaneously: Baldur’s GateNeverwinter NightsBane of the Cosmic Forge

It was my dad who taught me Dungeons and Dragons. My dad who made me a gamer.

I am reminded of these connections, of the importance of fathers, because I was at a the memorial service for my friends’ dad. He succumbed to ALS, right in the middle of a huge viral campaign around fighting the disease, a massive, modern-age fundraiser.

So if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my wife and I gave money. That you should too – that it’s a good cause to fight a terrible disease. I’d probably challenge you to take the challenge too.

If We Were Having Coffee is a Feature that a lot of other blogs participate in. I’m joining in as part of the housewarming party for a new blog, Just Gene’O. You can stop on by, and if you like what you see, why not give him a follow? Cheers.


Meme Monday 4

The Spice Must Flow

The best thing to come from the 1984 Dune: “The Spice Must Flow.”

Realistic vs. Romantic Literature – The Sunday Re-Blog

This post originally appeared on Comparative Geeks, as the end of a series of posts I had done and have shared over here as well. The post is long, so I will keep my intro short – but let me just say this, this is a post I am proud of!

Hello my readers, time again for me to touch on a series of posts I’ve written over the course of the blog so far. It all started out from a definition of science fiction I read in a book, which led into a blog post exploring that. Then, for comparison, I explored a definition of fantasy based on a quote that’s floated around social media. So between the two, I had pitted Frank Herbert against J.R.R. Tolkien. Then, for another look at it, I compared Star Trek and Star Wars. I still really like my genre exploration there.

And then I listened to George R.R. Martin on the Nerdist Podcast, and it got me thinking that all this work of putting things in genres, and holding one over another or pitting them against one another, was wrong; and I was working on coming up with new terms or new ways of thinking about the differences, of trying to really articulate what I was trying to say.

That’s when I got a comment back on that first post, questioning what I meant about science fiction, making me really think about what I was saying. The commenter – who had the opportunity to interview the author, Paolo Bacigalupi – recommended and discussed The Windup Girl. So I felt I needed to read that first and consider it. And to consider what it is I have been trying to articulate, to think of the terms and groupings and ways that we talk about these sorts of stories, and so that is where I am coming from with this post. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Read more of this post

Q – Quotes

QI love quotes. Not going to lie. And I think most people do – whether it’s to show our fandom, or to use the thoughts of others; whether it’s for an academic purpose to support our thoughts, or for an argumentative one to use our opponents’ words against them. Quotes have power.

When it comes to creating fiction, however, or really any sort of writing – can you ever really know what parts are going to be quoted (if any)? Generally that’s not an element under your control. You don’t know whether you’ll be taken out of context, or people will catch a mistake, or catch that one phrase you worked really hard on. Many of the most influential academic papers tend to be ones with an important theory presented or word created or explained – which are often elements that happen early in the set-up of the paper, and rarely as the purpose of the whole paper. But these parts stick, even as the purpose is forgotten.

For fiction writing, I think that the go-to case study when it comes to quotes is Dune by Frank Herbert. In Dune, every chapter begins with a quote from somewhere in the science-fictional universe Herbert created – whether it is a quote from a history book (generally written after the time described in the book), or an ancient (though future for us) proverb, or a cultural proverb, or a quote from one of his characters from a scene we are not presented. There are poems and songs.

Herbert breathed life into this universe, and created one of the most lasting pieces of science fiction – and really the genre-defining work – in part by creating the important quotes of that world. The sorts of things the people would say, or turn to; the research in the world; the arts and writings. And by having these moments outside of the plot, though often enhancing the plot, he showed that this was a universe wholly realized and fleshed-out. He gave it substance.

What is the son but an extension of the father? To quote Dune. Brian Herbert kept this tradition going, and it is interesting to see it continued. It is a fantastic writing exercise and thought experiment. And though it would be hard to include quotes like this in another book without being compared directly to Dune, it would be good to be thinking about it: what sorts of quotes would exist in the world you are creating? Or what quotes would you like your readers to take away? Have those in mind, even if you don’t include them directly in the work!

Oh, and I found this collection of Dune quotes online.

[Edit]: And how could I forget this Dune quotes gem: http://calvinanddune.tumblr.com/

The Sunday Re-Blog – Science Fiction versus Fantasy

I’ve explored definitions of Science Fiction and Fantasy from their modern fathers. And I’ve pitted two of the heaviest hitters against each other. Now… time to rethink? Enter George R.R. Martin!

I have given a definition of both Science Fiction and Fantasy before, and I love both, so I care. If you look back at our Liebster Award nomination, I said that one of the more important things to me is Science Fiction being taken seriously. And I think I would happily include Fantasy in that as well. There are a lot of other causes out there, and things to be done – I’ve talked about Geeks and Charity as well – but the discussion about Science Fiction, and its place in thought, in learning, in the classroom… That seems like something I can influence a bit, right?

So recently we listened to George R.R. Martin on the Nerdist Podcast. And first off, if you like George R.R. Martin, it was a lot of fun. It was right after he destroyed the guitar (which we talked about before) at Comic Con. He talks Game of Thrones, and conventions, and writing, and, to the point here and now, he talks Science Fiction and Fantasy.

If part of the reason I like the quotes from Frank Herbert and J.R.R. Tolkien is because they are the fathers of the genres. However, George R.R. Martin is something of a current crown prince, or some other metaphor, in Fantasy. So what does he add to my thought? And where do we draw the lines? Read more of this post

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