Erm, Fell Out of the Saddle again

The cover of Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf.Well actually it was stepping off a bus.

So back in November I declared myself back in the blogging saddle, having resumed my hobby from its previous hiatus. I commenced with a review of Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear, and then, nothing. Until now, nearly three months later.

What happened? Well I got busy with the whole teaching English thing, then finding an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, and ad then there was plans made for a holiday trip to Northern Thailand during the Tet holiday here (Tet being a good time to get away from Viet Nam, since the whole country basically shuts down for a week to celebrate).

Then this happened. And it sucked. And it continues to suck.

But now I’m getting on with the new normal, and finding time for my hobbies again.

I should add that I still read a lot of books while this was going on; in fact I resorted to a lot of literary comfort food during my convalescence. I reread Tolkien — The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin. I reread Douglas Adams, the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide plus the Dirk Gently novels. I even reread some old Star Trek novels that were favorites of my youth (some of which, alas, haven’t exactly withstood the test of time).

I also read some new stuff, including Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, which I ordered after having read the New York Time’s book review. Perhaps I’ll get around to posting a review here, but for now let it suffice to say that I found more faults with it than does the NY Times’ reviewer. I don’t know if that’s because I’m just more fussy, or perhaps because I’ve read many more examples of that genre and related ones in my misspent youth. The Last Werewolf is certainly not without merits, but it takes more than clever prose to rescue yet another ho-hum tale about an over-sexed, angst-ridden, ennui-filled debonair monster.

Anyway, on with the show (provided I don’t break or tear something else).

Mythopoeic Society’s 2011 Award Finalists

If, like me an hour or so ago, you’re wondering what exactly mythopoeic means, and consequently who and what the eponymous society is, allow me to elucidate. Or rather, let me quote the society:

Mythopoeic Society's 2011 awardsThe Mythopoeic Society is a national/international organization promoting the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantastic and mythopoeic literature through books and periodicals, annual conferences, discussion groups, awards, and more. We are especially interested in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, prominent members of the informal Oxford literary circle known as the “Inklings” (1930s-1950s). …

Scholars of the Inklings had observed that these men all created myth, so Society founder Glen GoodKnight borrowed a Greek adjective meaning “myth-making” as the name of the Society. Although the Inklings were all Christian authors, the Mythopoeic Society strives to follow what GoodKnight called “the Middle Way”: neither denying the religious beliefs and purposes of our three core authors, nor serving as an organization seeking to propagate those beliefs; and while urging the importance and relevance of our central authors, avoiding the trap of becoming a “cult of personality” for any one of them.

Karen Lord's debut novel, Redemption in IndigoI dunno, a cult of Tolkien personality, or a Lewis personality cult, might not be so bad. But anyway, that’s the Mythopoeic Society. I had never heard of them before, but then I’ve been rather preoccupied lo these past two years or so. I’m also not familiar with the authors they name in their awards list (as presented below), but if the book blurbs are any indication, they all sound interesting.

One might suspect that Mythopoeic Society awards finalists’ works would all be elves and orcs, dwarves and goblins and gnomes and whatnot. But that’s not necessarily the case. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven, for example, is set in a parallel of China’s Tang Dynasty (he apparently specializes in the alternate history subgenre), while Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo is a retelling of a Senegalese folktale – this one sounds particularly interesting; Lord’s debut novel has garnered several other accolades as well.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

There are also awards for scholarly works on this same genre. Here’s the complete list of the Mythopoeic Society’s 2011 Award Finalists.

Postscript: Credit where credit is due; I first heard of this while perusing Locus Online.