Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

My friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons, and we all normally play characters of our own gender. I barely remember what the situation was, but a situation once arose during a D&D session where my character wanted to do something, and another player said that the NPC wouldn’t allow it because I was a woman and the middle ages were sexist. 

I was completely taken aback. We weren’t including plague, infant mortality, or suicide in our campaign — in fact, there wasn’t even any gore, sex, or curse words unless the players specified it. The DM was PG at its finest. We were obviously including medieval elements that made things fun, like swords and tyrant kings, but omitting things that would make it less fun, like weight limits and bestiality. So why would sexism be built in to the world?  … More Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace with Ed Catmull (2014)

I hate anyone who tries to tell other writers how to write, who pretends to know the exact elements that a story “must” have. Anyone who thinks that there is a clear formula or clear method of creating a story is diluted.

Creativity Inc. was recommended to me by a good friend years ago, but I only got around to reading it this holiday season because of my New Year’s resolution to read and watch things that people recommended to me (as opposed to putting it off for weeks, months, or years). And hey, the title was about unleashing creativity, not work-shopping a story. How bad could it be?

It was phenomenal.  … More Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace with Ed Catmull (2014)

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (1997)

What I find interesting about my history with Harry Potter is that every time I read the series, it seemed to change. I had different opinions, enjoyed different parts, and noticed different things about it. Perhaps that will always happen with every book I reread, perhaps it will stop happening when I stop growing, or perhaps it’s a quirk of the series itself.

But what did I think of it this time, reading it just before my junior year of college? … More The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (1997)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Originally published 2/27/2016. Lead image via Wikipedia. 5 STARS You may have heard the phrase “Brave New World” before. It’s from Shakespeare. And a character in Brave New World doesn’t just happen to say it; he actually quotes Shakespeare all the time. This was, once again, a book I was required to read in English class (though … More Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (2017)

Casually combining chocolate and dragons, as children’s books should.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart follows the story of a young dragon named Aventurine who is turned into a human by a “food mage” who tricks her into drinking cursed hot chocolate. Once a human, her dragon family no longer recognizes her so she has to join human society and get an apprenticeship, which she chooses to do at a “chocolate house.”

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to kids and even teens, but I’m not too certain if it holds up for adults.  … More The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (2017)

On Symbolism, Part 4: Digging Deeper

So from that quick class analysis, we learned that… Shakespeare was Christian. Seriously, we did not go any farther on this topic other than to say that the handkerchief symbolized the Garden of Eden. That’s it. Nothing more. No questioning the human subliminal or why it’s the “forbidden fruit” and not the “forbidden meat.” We identified the alleged symbol (since it’s Shakespeare, I give it 50/50 chance of being intentional), and then we moved on to look for the next. … More On Symbolism, Part 4: Digging Deeper

On Symbolism, Part 2: What is a Symbol?

One of the biggest downsides to how symbolism is taught in English class is that it gives students the wrong idea of what symbolism is. By graduation, students are split into two camps: one camp where all symbolism is a myth made up by academics and another camp where the blue-curtain brand of symbolism is sacred.

Symbolism is a real thing, but its name has been so warped by public English classrooms that I’m more tempted to call it something like “associative meaning,” “connotation,” or “object emotion.” But the most basic definition of a symbol is something that has meaning beyond what it is in a literal sense. The key here is that the meaning has to be understood in order to be an effective symbol, even if that understanding is subconscious.

In other words: people don’t need to be taught how to find symbolism. If it’s an effective symbol, then the intended audience should register on some level that the symbol is important. Symbolism analysis, then, should focus on articulating the feelings that one already experiences when coming across a symbol, not digging to find made-up symbols. … More On Symbolism, Part 2: What is a Symbol?