Lake Monsters of the USA

Allison Meier at Atlas Obscura has shared a map of the various and sundry aquatic beasties inhabiting American lakes. The creatures are conveniently classified into numerous categories such as nessies, giant turtles, webbed hominids, etc. Very nice!

Ten Types of Teen Heroes

Ranked according to wish fulfillment by Charlie Jane Anders over at io9. (Some objectionable language).

10. The Tool of the Man

9. The Cute Sidekick

8. The Footloose Adventurer

7. The Young Detective, Spy, Inventor, etc.

6. The Disney Princess

5. Teenage Witch, Teen Wolf, Teen Vampire, etc.

4. The Misfit Outcast

3. The Hinge in the Paranormal Love Triangle

2. The Rebel

1. The Chosen Savior

Thanksgiving 2013

I’m thankful for…

  • Faith, hope, and love.
  • The Mercer University Children’s Choir.
  • The most awesomely awesome wife in the universe.
  • A daughter who still likes me to read her bedtime stories.
  • Diyclomine.
  • Bills that are paid.
  • The innocence of childhood.
  • The ability to keep on learning.
  • The privilege of living near my parents.
  • Amazing friends with all their amazing interests and skills.
  • Grace.
  • Fond memories of my departed mother-in-law.
  • A bright and enthusiastic pastor.
  • Jim Butcher.
  • The cheeseburgers at Greek Corner Pizza.
  • Relpax.
  • The Bibb County Public Library.
  • Mr. Seredick.
  • A church where they let me lead a three-week Bible study on monsters.
  • Wonder.

What are you thankful for?

Favorite Fantasy Tropes

Christine Amsden has listed her top 10 favorite fantasy tropes over at her blog, Into the Dreaming. It’s a great list that tracks fairly close with my own. If I were to offer my own list, it would be (in no particular order):

  • Action Survivors. I like a protagonist who is in over his or her head and somehow comes through even though vastly outgunned by the bad guys.
  • Guile Heroes. Related to the above, I love love love it when the protagonist finds a way to use trickery to get out of a scrape rather than hacking, slashing, or blasting. Show me a hero who can think on his or her feet and gain the upper hand just by being sneaky.
  • Shapeshifters. Face it, they’re just cool.
  • Snark. If your hero isn’t going to be completely bewildered by all the wild fantasy stuff that’s going on (in which case, he or she isn’t going to last long as a hero!), then go for snark. It seems to be the only attitude likely to get you through when the next eldritch abomination comes knocking on your door. If you can’t do snark, at least give me some kind of comic relief.
  • The Fair Folk. Seriously, have you looked around this web site?
  • Magic that Has Rules. I not too picky what the rules are, but I love it when magic has definite, coherent limitations. It makes one’s wizards far more approachable as characters and can help to avoid using magic as a deus ex machina.
  • Societies that Work. Not everybody can be a warrior or a wizard. Most folks are going to be farmers or butchers or accountants. I like seeing how this aspect of a fantasy world has been fleshed out.
  • Hat Tips to Folklore. I don’t care if you’re doing something radically new and different with your wizards / vampires / werewolves / elves / etc. Please show me that you know how these creatures or entities worked in relevant historical cultures. THEN take me on a ride that skews or reinterprets that body of folklore.

What are your favorite fantasy tropes?

What Makes “Epic Fantasy” Epic?

Very thoughtful article up at Fantasy Faction on what it is that actually makes “epic fantasy” epic:

Epic Fantasy takes its name from the tradition of epic poetry that reaches back to antiquity and beyond. Epics, in this meaning of the word, were stories that stood as central pillars to the cultures that created them. Preserved orally, they were capable of being repeated thousands of times, so that listeners would grow up knowing the tales, not even able to remember a time before they had heard them. They were massively long and complex, and although they did have heroes, and often battles and dramatic adventure, their role was more complex than merely to entertain. They described a world not different from the one their authors lived in, but one in which the mysterious, the mythic, and the divine were made to speak openly and to make their actions clear. They helped explain the nature of the world.

Further, they showed how it changed. In all of the traditional epics, the narrative of events takes place on what historians call “a world historical scale.” This means that deeds of the main actors, the struggles and journeys that the epics recount, have an effect on the very nature of the world. They permanently change history. For better or worse, something is different at the end. When Odysseus returns home, Troy has been destroyed and the mythic age of heroes is over. At the end of the Aneaid, a city is established that will grow to become the largest empire the world had ever known. In vanquishing Ravenna, Rama establishes himself as the God-King on earth, fulfilling the destiny of the seventh avatar of the God Vishnu (I count the Ramayana as an epic in the traditional sense, although it is at the same time a living religious text). When Dante completes his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, he has explained the fall and redemption of man according to the medieval Christian understanding.