Tag Archives: Fantasy

Forty Years With the Force

Poster for Return of The Jedi by Matt Ferguson
image © Matt Ferguson

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, so this post will feature all things Star Wars for all ages, whether you’re new or seasoned fans! The franchise is galaxy-spanning, so I’m not going to be able to recommend everything, but if I miss a favourite of yours, chime in in the comments!

Also, expect to see minor spoilers, though I will try to avoid major ones.

We’ll start things off with the original trilogy featuring Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, which you can borrow individually or as a trilogy set.

Follow it up with the prequel trilogy (or don’t, if you hate them, although I personally enjoy them) in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith for insight into Luke’s origins and why and how he came to be the Jedi’s new hope.

Continue reading

Some Cozy Fantasy for the Soul

May is peak cottagecore vibes for me: the nascent blooms, the birdsong, the feel of sun on your skin. It’s all very life-affirming after the cold dregs of winter. Cottagecore, like spring, is pleasant. Pretty. Unchallenging. And above all, a fantasy. So what better time of year than May to dip into some cozy fantasy? 

I was first made aware of this niche genre by a friend of mine, a fellow cozy enjoyer, my Stardew Valley compatriot. While discussing our current reads, she turned to me and said, “Okay, don’t judge me, but…” and then described Legends and Lattes to me, essentially a story about an orc running a coffee shop. Far from judging, I thought it sounded lovely. I looked it up and had a chuckle at the novel’s subtitle: “A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes”. Because that’s cozy fantasy in a nutshell. The fantasy doesn’t necessarily need to be high, but the stakes must be low. Sometimes you want to just chill with some elves without it becoming a whole thing. 

Typically, the markings of high fantasy involve (per Masterclass) “a setting very unlike Earth”, “world threatening forces”, and “fantastic creatures, historic or unusual technologies, magical elements, and other unearthly elements”. We’re talking Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Fifth Season territory: maybe based somewhat on the real world (Tolkien and Martin based their continents on Earth’s recognizable geography), but populated with fantastical creatures and shaped by a need to vanquish a world-shattering foe (or foes). Cozy fantasy, on the other hand, can feature the trappings of high fantasy (creatures, magic, etc.) without the hassle of saving the world. Everyone’s definitions of what counts as “cozy” seems to differ slightly, but I like the way Book Riot puts it: “Cozy is an emotive modifier like horror or thriller, where the category informs readers what emotional effect the book builds.” It’s a rejection of the cynical, grimdark facets of some modern fantasy (like the Game of Thrones HBO series) which can sometimes seem dark for dark’s sake. This is fantasy, people! We don’t always have to base it on some pseudo-medieval brutality!  

Continue reading

ChatGPT and Reader’s Advisory

The cover of Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework by Joseph Mayo

I’ve been testing ChatGPT lately and wondered about its ability to perform RA services. So with my Help! I’ve finished the Discworld Novels post in mind I gave it this query:

“Hello ChatGPT1, I really enjoyed the Discworld Novels, but I’ve finished them all! Can you give me some recommendations for what to read next?”

I left it deliberately open. I didn’t ask for details or state how many books I was looking for, and, notably, didn’t say why I enjoyed the Discworld novels.

Here’s the response ChatGPT came back with (Links added by me):

“Certainly! If you enjoyed the Discworld novels, you might also enjoy these other fantasy series:

  1. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: This series follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary magician and musician. It’s a beautifully written series with a rich and complex world.
  2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson: This is an epic fantasy series set in a world of magic, monsters, and political intrigue. It follows the lives of several characters as they try to save their world from destruction.
  3. The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie: This series is a dark and gritty take on the fantasy genre. It follows a group of flawed and morally ambiguous characters as they navigate a world of war, politics, and magic.
  4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan: This is a classic epic fantasy series that spans 14 books. It follows a group of characters as they try to save their world from an evil force known as the Dark One.
  5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson: This series is a complex and sprawling epic fantasy that spans multiple continents and hundreds of characters. It’s a challenging read, but incredibly rewarding for those who stick with it.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful!”

Continue reading