Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review: Another Fine Myth

Book Name: Another Fine Myth
Author: Robert Lynn Asprin
First Published: 1978

Robert Asprin was a resident of Chicago, a veteran of the United States Army and extremely active in science fiction fandom. Asprin was married twice and is survived by two children. In 1976, he was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation for The Capture, a cartoon slide show written by Robert Asprin and drawn by Phil Foglio. The late seventies proved to be his launch point as a writer. He began work as an editor by creating and editing Thieves World, an anthology of stories based on a single world. It was the first known project of this type to be done. He also published the first novel in his fantasy Myth Series that would continue to gain more additions until his death in 2008. Asprin was a prolific author with two famous series, the Myth Series and the Phule Company Series in addition the Thieves World Anthologies and many stand alone novels.

Another Fine Myth begins as Skeeve, a young thief turned sorcerer’s apprentice, is reluctantly thrust into a world of assassins, demons and dimensional hopping when his master, the wizard Garkin, is murdered. The boy is taken under the wing of Garkin’s “demon”, the reptilian being from the dimension of Perv. Aahz has lost his magic due to being sprinkled with joke powder during a summoning ritual and without Garkin, has little chance of regaining his powers. He still retains his knowledge of how to do magic. Aahz decides to continue Skeeve’s training as a wizard as together they attempt to thwart the evil Isstvan from taking over Skeeve’s homeworld of Klah with ample doses of humor along the way.

I don’t recall ever being as delighted with a novel as I was when I discovered Another Fine Myth during its first printing in the late 1970s. I was a student who was addicted to reading and fantasy/sci-fi novels were my favorite choices. This quick paced story is filled with humor, puns and play on words that keep you in stitches. I would eagerly await each new installment as Mr. Asprin created them and enjoyed each light-hearten and even corny addition with few disappointments. Even now, as an adult, I remember his books with a high degree of fondness. If you haven’t read the Myth Series by Asprin, you are in for a rare treat. Start with this one, number one in the series and look forward to a laughable good time. This is not literature by any means, but quick-paced fun entertainment that is going to stick with you down through the years.

The series order is as follows:

  • Another Fine Myth (1978)
  • Myth Conceptions (1980)
  • Myth Directions (1982)
  • Hit or Myth (1983)
  • Myth-ing Persons (1984)
  • Little Myth Marker (1985)
  • M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link (1986)
  • Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections (1987)
  • M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action (1990)
  • Sweet Myth-tery of Life (1993)
  • Myth-Ion Improbable (2001)
  • Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. (2002)
  • Myth-told Tales (2003) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Myth Alliances (2003) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Myth-taken Identity (2004) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Class Dis-Mythed (2005) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Myth-Gotten Gains (2006) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Myth-Chief (2008) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Myth-Fortunes (2008) with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Another Fine Myth Book CoverThis novel has had a recent reprinting in 2005 and is easy to find at most major book sellers. The Myth Series have been picked up by three publishing companies over the years: Donning Starblaze, Meisha Merlin and, as of 2008, Wildside Press.

    Book Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    Book Name: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
    Author: Lewis Carrol
    Illustrator: Sir John Tenniel
    First Published: 1865

    Lewis Carrol, born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a mathematician with an innate sense of order and logic, colored with his absurd observations of society around him. Dodgson was a prolific writer of original fiction, including his popular children’s stories, but he also wrote essays, political pamphlets, poetry and mathematical textbooks. He was a mathematical lecturer and a Deacon at Christ Church. Three years before Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published, Reverend Dodgson took a rowing trip on the Isis river near Oxford with the three young children of Christ Church Dean Henry Liddel. During this journey, he made up a impromptu story about a bored little girl named Alice and entertained the children as he rowed. Afterward, ten year old Alice Liddel begged him to write down the story for her and the next day Dodgson began to work on the manuscript. This first draft of Alice in Wonderland has been lost.

    On 26 November 1864, Reverend Dodgson gifted Alice Liddel a handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, fulfilling his promise to her. He dedicated the novel as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”. It is an earlier draft of the final version of the novel. Once Dodgson finished the final version and allowed the children of his friends to read it and gained their positive responses, he approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book. He told the artist it was a novel beloved by children based on these informal readings. The novel’s first print run of 2000 copies in 1865 was held back due to Tenniel’s objections of the print quality. Dodgson switched to a New York publishing house where the print run sold out. Over time, the novel gained in popularity and is now considered a classic of the literary nonsense genre and it has not been out of print since. Sir John Tenniel is best known as an illustrator for his work in this and other Lewis Carrol books.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begins on a summer day while Alice and her older sister are sitting on a river bank. Alice’s sister is reading a book and Alice noticed that the book didn’t have any pictures, which made the little girl lose interest in it. Being bored, Alice looks over the meadow and sees a large white rabbit running past her while looking at his pocket watch and speaking how he will be late. The rabbit disappears down a rabbit hole and Alice, being curious, follows him.

    She enters a crazy world filled with fantastical characters and social situations where her innocence protects her from the insanity around her. She meets a hookah smoking caterpillar, joins in a mad tea party with the March Hare and the Hatter, is greeted by the Cheshire Cat and challenges the Queen of Hearts. As Alice begins to seek her way home, she is constantly being challenged by characters to solve word games, mathematical problems and having her own good sense questioned. A mixture of poetry, nonsense and social irony greets the young girl until she returns to the world above ground. Was it all just a fanciful dream in the end? You will have to decide.

    I remember reading Alice in Wonderland for the first time as a child. It was a book that I happened to pick up in my school’s library. It was an enjoyable read and all the fantastical characters made me smile. It was not until I was older that I realized that there were layers to this novel, comments about the way that people were changing from a agricultural society into an industrial one and all the shifts in perception that this caused. As you study more about Lewis Carrol and his times, new perceptions of this book will strike you. This book has become a major influence on me as a writer. It it not just a story for the kids, it has meaning for adults as well.

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Book CoverYou can find a free download of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Project Gutenberg. It was one of the first novels that was transcribed there.

    Tenniel Illustrations for Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel is also available for free download.

    Author Interview: Sara King

    I first was introduced to Sara King’s writing when I happened upon a draft her novel Outer Bounds on a writing review site that we both frequent. I wrote an editorial review of the first chapter of her book and asked if she would send me the rest so I could find out what would happen next. We’ve stayed in touch via facebook ever since. With her latest novel about to drop on Amazon, I thought it a good time to introduce this intrepid author to you here on No Wasted Ink.

    Author Sara KingMy name is Sara King. Really. And no, I’m not related to Stephen King, though his writing was a very strong influence on me in my early years. I’m a 29-year-old born and raised Alaskan, who’s known since she was a toddler that she was going to be a writer when she grew up. Unlike all the other would-be astronauts, paleontologists, and fish biologists out there, no one really managed to dissuade me from that particular hare-brained notion, so here I am. To give you an example of how stubborn and single-minded I’ve been about the whole writing affair, when I was explaining to my agent that I wanted to release one of my series of books out of order, he laughed and blinked at me and said, “You’re not George Lucas, Sara.” And the first thing that flashed into my mind? “YET!!”

    When and why did you begin writing?

    I wrote my first documented story when I was 4. I know, because my grandmother dated Sammy the Snake and stuck it in a file folder in her dresser, about six pages long, with plenty of illustrated curly-cues of snakes that looked like twisty wads of poop. I say my first ‘documented’ because I wrote more before that, including Bob the Brontosaurus, which I lovingly stapled together while destroying my mother’s favorite stapler by standing on it when regular means would not suffice, but I’m afraid that my mother’s filing habits are not as complete, and Bob is probably a goner.

    When did you first consider yourself a writer?

    As soon as I decided that’s what I was going to be. I knew as a really young kid that I had to be an entertainer of some sort, and looking back, I judged all the positives and negatives of each entertainment profession with kind of creepily-mature decision-making skills. Writing, I decided, had the best collection of traits that I was looking for. It meant I could work from home—any home I wanted, anywhere—it had great opportunities for making a buck, it had huge pre-existing networks in which I could disseminate my ideas, it left me with no huge need to be under intense public scrutiny, and it was something I could basically teach myself to do. I chose writing over art because I felt writing had a bigger chance of making more money and going viral. This all when I was 3 or 4. From that point on, I started teaching myself to write, in earnest.

    Can you share a little about your current book with us?

    Alaskan Fury is about a Fury who, 3000 years ago, was told by her Lord to go kill a djinni. The Fury won the duel (think a sword-slinging, super-powered Batman going up against Shakespeare) and the djinni, hoping to prolong his life, submitted, binding himself to her for 3 wishes. The Fury raised her sword to kill him anyway, and, out of desperation, realizing she wasn’t going to take his bribe, the djinni cursed her never to commit violence (a Fury’s stock-in-trade). The book starts with 3000 years of bitterness and despair from their predicament already tainting their every action. It begins when the two of them finally hit rock-bottom, and is about the love story that develops from there.

    Do you have a specific writing style?

    Actually, yes. I am one of those freakish authors that subscribes fully to the Butterfly Effect. (i.e. The Pull It Out Of Your Ass Syndrome) This wreaks hell with my ability to edit or plot out a story, but it draws people along like nobody’s business. I’d say 1/100 of the authors I know write this way. Stephen King is a perfect example of a writer who writes like this. Basically, the characters will lead you along from beginning to end, so that you never get bored, but the plot doesn’t have perfect arcs and there are random tangents. I have always—ALWAYS—found myself unable to write based on a plot outline. I always take the tangents, always. For years, I agonized over it, but still couldn’t stop myself, even after I’d spent weeks on an outline…I’d throw it all away to take a single interesting tangent in the first 20 minutes because my characters said or did something that was unexpected. So, after about 5 years of struggling to write based on what I was told I had to do, I finally just gave in to that random-ass thrill-seeker part of me and stopped trying to conform. That was when I was 11. Immediately after, I finished my first novel at the age of 12. I think it was 145k words, or something like that, and you can imagine that I thought it was the cat’s meow. (shudder)

    Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

    Alaskan Fury takes place in (gasp!) Alaska. I was born and raised here, so I can get pretty detailed without someone screaming ‘hack.’ The characters are me. I’ll blatantly admit it. I pick a facet of myself and channel that baby onto paper, then switch POVs and pick another one. Though I often use what I have observed of other people in my writing, in Fury, it’s pretty much all me except for the dragon. The dragon was based off of my fiancé and his curious—but cute!!—hoarding instinct. Anything valuable or shiny is fair game.

    What authors have most influenced your life?

    I’m going to revise your question a bit to ask which ‘storytellers’ have most influenced my life, because I spent a great portion of my life (and still do!) analyzing great storytellers and a great story isn’t just told via books. So here goes, in no particular order: Tom Brion, George Lucas, Joss Whedon, Anne McCaffery, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin. You guys, I bow to you. Tom Brion is my grandfather, who can spin a tale that holds an entire room enraptured, from whom I literally learned all the basics of good storytelling as I sat on his knee, listening to him tell tales of his misadventures in Alaska beginning when I was a wee ‘human bean.’ Oh, and I would totally grovel at Martin’s feet, if he would let me. Arya is my favorite character of all time, followed closely by Jaime. Now that man can write…

    Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

    My fiancé, David MacKey, did the cover. He’s normally a comic illustrator, but I kind of drafted him for this purpose because I love his art and I don’t mind being different. As to how I selected him, he basically selected me. The poor guy read my sci-fi novel Outer Bounds by random accident on the internet, felt compelled to look me up, had a little mini-freakout session with some of his friends when he realized I was single, then politely asked me if I’d like to chat. I think I told him to screw off a few times, but he was persistent…

    Do you have any advice for other writers?

    Your first novel is going to suck. Keep writing. Then write more. Then write some more. And then more. Do NOT get stuck on your first novel, thinking that’s going to be the best thing you ever write. It will be, bar none, your WORST. Keep analyzing your style and comparing it to what you like about other authors. Figure out how it ticks, then replicate it. Don’t concern yourself overly much with books on how to write. Most of them aren’t written by writers. Use your gut instinct as a READER to tell you what’s going to go over well as a WRITER, and then let all the egg-heads who write their 101 Simple Steps On How To Write The Perfect Novel In 5 Days—written by, I might add, people whose name you’ve never heard of—sell their books to the people who are insecure enough to think they need them. Storytelling is instinctive. You can teach yourself, esp. if you use a batch of first-readers to ‘shotgun’ their criticisms of your work and then analyze that, too. Clusters of comments citing the same problem generally means it’s something you need to address. If it’s a single comment here or there, it’s probably an outlier, so ignore it. Probably around book 4 or 5, you’re going to really start getting the hang of things.

    Basically, with writing, everybody thinks they’re an expert, but it is my firm belief that the absolute best people you can get to help you with your work are people who hate to write, but love to read, and love to read the same types of books that you like to write. New writers are often very good at quoting the ‘rules’ without really looking much deeper and seeing the Grand Picture, and are hyper-critical and often wrong. When you’re looking for critiques, stick to readers who don’t write. You’ll get a better gut-instinct reaction, versus an ‘I read this’ reaction. Just because somebody with a couple of letters behind their name put one of their ideas down in a book does not mean it’s a good idea, but new writers, who are desperately seeking the Gospel that will transform their writing overnight into a huge success with little effort on their part, don’t have the confidence or experience to see that. That said, read Stephen King’s On Writing. You’ll love it.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    I had a world-famous agent for about 4 years, after which, I broke off and decided to do my own thing. Edging your way into the traditional publishing system right now is ridiculously difficult if you’re a new author. Therefore, I’m stepping into the bold new world of e-publishing all on my lonesome, but I expect to be a great success. If romance isn’t really your thing, keep an eye out for my sci-fi and fantasy series. I’ve had them written for years, but they’ve been sitting on my hard-drive for much too long, languishing as I waited for some traditional editor to take notice. I’m finally to the point where, since I know that I can make a decent living at this without waiting around with my thumb up my ass for some editor to notice me, I’m going to start publishing my own stories on Amazon. If you’d like to stay updated on this utterly brazen—and some say foolhardy—endeavor, you can find me on Facebook or Email Me. My first book, Alaskan Fire, came out at the end of January, and it currently has 18 5-star reviews. In my opinion, Alaskan Fury is even better, by far.

    Alaska Fury Book CoverSara King was four years old when she wrote her first short story. Seventeen years later, she is currently working on her 16th book, the third novel in the Guardians of the First Realm Alaskan Paranormal world.  Sara lives in Alaska with her soul mate and biggest fan, David. 
    Cover art by: David MacKey
    Alaskan Fire: Amazon Kindle Store (currently at 18 5-star reviews!!)
    Alaskan Fury: Amazon Kindle Store