28 August 2010

Gearing Up

Only a few days until the start of WorldCon. Unfortunately I leave the day FFXIV open beta starts, which is a minor conflict - though not nearly so bad a thing as starting the day the game launches!

I've been in closed beta a while, and this game will certainly suck away a lot of my free time. It's the crafting which has hold of me, unusually enough. FFXIV is a very pretty game, and the clothing is excellent. An elaborate game of dress-up dolls, really. Plus an excellent plotline. FFXI's strength as a MMO was their story/cutscenes, and FFXIV definitely looks like it will surpass that standard.

In the interim I've been revising - well, a little, really! But I'm very much in games mode at the moment, so have been spending my time on hidden object games when I can't play FFXIV.

Must...Revise...

13 August 2010

By Any Other Name

Twice this year I've found a name I've used in one of my books spending its time in someone else's novels.

To a certain degree this is inevitable, since names are rarely unique. My nephew, for instance, shares his name with a female guardswoman roleplaying character (and my space naga, for that matter). But distinctive or particularly well-known names are ones to treat with care.

It's entirely possible to use established real-world names which happen to feature in books (Hermione or Bella) and not cause a fuss (unless there are other similarities) but even so the reader will bring associations to the name, and may be jarred from your story. And distinctive names unique to or rarely encountered outside a particular novel or series (Rand, Menolly, Severus) are something which will almost always bring negative impacts to the reader/author experience.

In my current cases, my fallback term for magical schools (Arcanum) appears to have most recently shown itself in Patrick Rothfuss' novel. I will probably keep the name unchanged, since it is not nearly so distinctive as something like "Hogwarts". And today I found that the very distinctive surname of one of my main characters is the first name of a character in an extremely well-known series of novels.

Fortunately the spelling is slightly different, and almost everything else nothing alike, so I will also keep this name. But it was a close call. Giving up on a name you've spent a novel with is not an easy task. I can barely imagine how I'd cope if I found out Gandalf and Aragorn were also 'taken'.

03 August 2010

Scott Westerfeld: "Leviathan"

I bought this book because of the illustrations. I'll buy the sequel for the story.

Illustrations are a rarity these days, even in YA, and these (by one Keith Thompson) are detailed, charming and definitely go an extra mile in bringing the characters to life. [Though I wish the image used for the girl-in-disguise had been used for the boy, and vice-versa - the pictures just seemed so appropriate for the opposite characters!]

Anyway, the illustrations made me curious enough to read the blurb, the blurb made me interested in reading the book, Book Depository made it cheap and easy to get the book, and it was a one-sitting read once my paws were upon it.

Despites some niggles (How does one remove a coat while strapped into a harness? How does Darwin manage his genetic engineering?) this was a fun, fast-paced story with likeable characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty to make me keen to read on. It looks like it will be at least three or four books to the series, and as ever with series I wish I'd discovered it at the end, rather than halfway between the beginning and the middle, and I'm guessing in a spoilerish way that whatever is in those eggs is likely to "impress" on the first person they see.

Well recommended.