spoofing me softly

From The Simoqin Prophecies, as most entertainingly read by Ramon Tikaram:

They were a very highly-respected family of ogres, who had eaten many of the famous knights of the almost perfectly-circular table, in the forgotten days when Ventelot was the mightiest kingdom in the world–and not just famous for bad weather and worse food.

I should add that I saw a copy of The Name of the Wind yesterday on a shelf in a train station and was put mind that there are many similarities here: Basu and Rothfuss have the same gentle laughter going on behind their prose. But TNOTW takes itself a bit too seriously, where TSP always has its fingers crossed behind its back as it makes its grand pronouncements or descriptions.

Also, while I think there is no way for me to say it without sounding patronizing, TNOTW rubbed a little too “here is another white guy writing another fantasy novel, informed by the same cultural influences that have informed all the other white guys writing fantasy novels” for me. Basu, as made plain by all his joshing references to other fantastical works, has been exposed to those same cultural influences, as we can see from the first page:

In the hole in the ground there lived a rabbit. What is a rabbit? A rabbit (bunihopus bobtelus) is a small, white mammal that loves good food and is anxious when it is late for appointments. This particular rabbit was off on an expedition to the forest. He planned to wander around for a few years and then return home and write a book. There and Back Again: The Adventures of One Rabbit, he planned to call it.

But there is that and more, obviously, because he’s not Yet Another Midwestern White Guy Writing Somewhat More Progressive Modern Fantasy. And instead of dwelling on those differences, and banking on a kind of fetishism of them, he simply includes them without comment and leaves it to the readers to normalize them. And I love that he just puts them in there and doesn’t fixate on them: they simply are. He does, in short, the polar opposite, writing from where he does, of what white guys writing their ceaselessly bad historical novels about Japan do (usually from Japan, as they will loudly and proudly tell you, where they have a wife and kids and have “gone native, har har har, it’s like they don’t even recognize me as a foreigner anymore!” *gag*). And that, the avoidance of that kind of storytelling, is a good thing.

Well, and having Ramon Tikaram read the audiobooks sure as hell is a good thing, too. As the blizzard descended I thought “well, as long as I have power, I have over half an entire day of Dorian reading me a story to listen to. So I think I’ll be okay.” And I was.


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