Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Definitive SingLit Genre


SingLit. Singapore Literature. Literature by and for Singaporeans. Every year, the publishing industry and the Establishment team up to push homegrown literature. Every so often, the media reports on SingLit specimens gone global. Most of these SingLit stories are mainstream fiction. The Lit in SingLit. Stories that touch on relationships, culture, drama, life in this tiny city-state, or otherwise themes relevant to a Singaporean audience. But such stories aren't the quintessential Singaporean genre. That honour goes to another genre altogether.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Pulp Legend J. Manfred Weichsel talks about The Calydonian Boar Hunt


Pulp legend J. Manfred Weichsel recently sat down with the Blasters and Blades podcast to discuss his mythological adaptation The Calydonian Boar Hunt. If you are interested in learning more about Weichsel, his thoughts about his books, and his writing, give it a listen. You can find the podcast on YouTube or on your favorite podcast or streaming service

Surely some of you are thinking, "I already read Weichsel's books. Everybody does! What more do I need to know?" 

Well, it's important to be able to place what you read within some sort of context, and that's why Weichsel has been doing these interviews, to help his readers understand where he is coming from and what his attitudes are towards his work, in order to elevate people's understanding and appreciation of his books.

So definitely, give the podcast a listen! 

In other news, Weichsel's latest book Planet of the Wage Slaves just got a great new review from Benjamin Espen! Check the review out, and if you haven't yet, pick up the book today. It's a short read and only costs 99 cents.

And if you missed it, check out the blog interview Weichsel did last month with DMR Books where he discusses the influence of classical satire on his work. It's a super-interesting read. 

That's about it. Check out the podcast! And if you haven't already, pick up The Calydonian Boar Hunt and Planet of the Wage Slaves at your favorite bookstore! 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Draw From A Deeper Well


"This is just like [Brand X]!"

This is the most common sentence in modern fiction. It is also the most annoying sentence in modern fiction. Every time I encounter it in a story, I always roll my eyes, shake my head, and ignore the sentence. And usually the following paragraph too. Every reference to contemporary pop culture is a postule on the page, unworthy to be read and remembered.

Then I read Guy Gavriel Kay's River of Stars.

Sailing through the plot, recognition washed over me. Here was a story arc from Outlaws of the Marsh. There was a parallel to a real-world military disaster. And the male protagonist, Ren Daiyan, lives a life inspired by the feats of the legendary Marshal Yue Fei.

In primary school, I learned the story of Yue Fei. Renowned for his patriotism and military genius, he is a Chinese folk hero who led the army of the late Northern Song Dynasty against Jin invaders. As an adult, I study an art allegedly created by Yue Fei. Outlaws of the Marsh is one of the earliest, most famous of the classical Chinese novels, also set in the Northern Song Dynasty, following the exploits of 108 outlaws who rebelled against the government, and later fought against invasion from the north.

Every chapter and every beat filled me with fresh wonder. For the first time in months, years even, I didn't feel jaded when ready a fantasy book. Ever reference to the life of Yue Fei and Outlaws of the Marsh brought a smile of delight.

And, at the same time, a knowing sorrow.

I knew how the stories of Yue Fei and Outlaws of the Marsh ended. So would anyone with an interest in Chinese culture. I knew how River of Stars would end. And yet, I followed the novel all the way to the bitter end.

Why did references to pop culture provoke derision and scorn, but references to Chinese culture evoke delight? I can think of three reasons: The Three Nos.