General · reading

Unique words in Left Hand of Darkness

I am still reading The Left Hand of Darkness.  90u7bm

This book has used three words: phlegmatic, obdurate, pertincious.

I am a bit awed.

I hardly see these words used even once in novels, and this book not only uses them, it uses them all in one sentence. In one sentence.

It is awesome.

I have barely started. And this whole thing with the king putting red cement on a new building – uh, red like blood, yeah? – is also awesome, but I don’t really understand that yet.

That’s okay. It’s early days yet.

General · reading · science fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Left Hand of Darkness

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.


Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Yes, indeed the people in it are androgynous, but that doesn’t mean that I’m predicting that in a millennium or so well all be androgynous, or announcing that I think we damned well ought to be androgynous. I’m merely observing, in the peculiar, devious, and thought-experimental manner proper to science fiction, that if you look at us at certain odd times of day in certain weathers, we already are.. I am not predicting, or prescribing. I am describing. I am describing certain aspects of psychological reality in the novelist’s way, which is by inviting elaborately circumstantial lies. 

– from the Introduction in the Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin















fantasy · reading · Writing

Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Themes, King Arthur and Clichés

I used to think fantasy started with Tolkien, but now I realize it originated with King Arthur.

The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy talks about the origins of fantasy. It mentions the Romantic Tradition and King Arthur.

The story of King Arthur involves:

1) Commoner who is really a king

2) Old Wizard who guides the hero

3) Enchanted sword or other artifact of magic

4) A quest for a relic, sometimes a vessel, with powers on a godlike scale

5) Diverse companions

I am positively stunned. I never realized this before. Everyone knows the story of King Arthur. Who has not read The Once and Future King by TH White? And even if you haven’t, most people still know the story!

King Arthur predates Tolkien, but it has nearly every fantasy clichés and archetype. I can’t even begin to count the number of stories that have all those things.

David Eddings, of course. Tolkien. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordon. Riddle-Master  by Patricia A. McKillip.  I am sure there are lots and lots of others I can’t think of right now.

Harry Potter, even. He isn’t a king, but he is a famous commoner. Dumbledore Old Wizard who guides the hero. Every book has an artifact and a quest, and friends to help him!

But despite all that, Harry Potter is nothing like King Arthur or Tolkien. The worlds could not be more different.

So do these surface similarities matter?  Are they really clichés that are better not repeated? Or themes on which you can have endless varieties?