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Science Fiction & Fantasy

When I Won the Lottery

81Gcz2pRU7L._SL1500_Douglas E. Richards, shares with us his journey to becoming a New York Times best-selling author and his approach to adding vivid details to his novels.

I may be the luckiest man on earth. I have a master’s degree in genetic engineering, and several years ago left a lucrative position as a biotechnology executive to pursue my dream of writing, penning a science fiction thriller called Wired. Several major publishers loved it—but just not enough for them to take a financial risk with an unknown writer. So after years of fighting the good fight, and of near misses, I threw the manuscript in a drawer, gave up on my dream, and returned to biotech.

But a few months later I decided to publish the novel myself on Amazon. It couldn’t have been simpler to do. And why not? I had put considerable effort into the novel, and it would mean a lot to me if even a few people managed to find it.  

And that’s when I won the lottery (and left biotech for a second time). Because WIRED went viral, spending five weeks on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, a testament to my brilliant marketing strategy of doing absolutely nothing and scratching my head in wonder as I watched it all happen (I call it the “sit on your hands and hope you get really, really lucky” strategy).

Suffice it to say that even a handful of novels later, not a day goes by when I’m not thankful for being able to pursue my dream, or grateful to those readers who continue to support my work.

Continue reading "When I Won the Lottery" »

Characters to Lighten the Way

91SScpHUvYL._SL1500_R.L. Naquin, author of "Demons in My Driveway", sheds some light on the characters from her Monster Haven series.

I didn’t set out to be funny when I began the Monster Haven series. The story lines themselves can get pretty dark, though, so the characters keep things from getting too angst-ridden and depressing. They lighten the mood.

Book one, Monster in My Closet, dives right into the weirdness. Zoey grabs a toilet brush as a weapon on her way down the hall to confront an intruder. To her surprise, she finds Maurice, the closet monster she was terrified of as a child. Reading the newspaper. And baking muffins. Why? He’s currently homeless and needs a place to live. We’re also introduced to a pygmy dragon with a cold, a skunk ape who smells like flowers and a family of brownies setting up house in the linen closet.

In the second book, Pooka in My Pantry, the pooka looks a bit like Danny DeVito and hates wearing pants. Only Zoey can see and hear him, which makes for some funny moments when other people are in the room. At the office, Zoey has to stop her best friend from sitting in the waiting pooka’s lap. Friends don’t let friends get felt up by the supernatural. Especially when the supernatural’s not wearing pants.

Stakes get higher by book three, Fairies in My Fireplace, but nobody can be serious giving a dog a bath—even when the dog is a hellhound with a nasty case of mange. Sponges fly, the hellhound’s splash zone is huge, then THUNK. Somebody shoots a tranquilizer dart into a passing thunderbird. The enormous bird lands on Zoey’s VW Bug, squashing the car flat. Kam—a djinn recently escaped from her master—pokes the unconscious thunderbird and informs it that it can’t park there. She wasn’t helping with the dog wash, by the way. She didn’t want to ruin her dress—a replica of Pat Benatar’s costume from the ’80s “Love Is a Battlefield” video.

Golem in My Glovebox was tough to lighten up. Creepy little girl, gruesome deaths, mind control. I had to bring in some extra craziness. In one of my favorite scenes, Zoey and her reaper boyfriend, Riley, meet with an O.G.R.E. squad—the police of the Hidden world—in a skeezy bar in the middle of nowhere. Included in the group are the world’s shortest giant, the world’s tallest dwarf, two actual ogres and a siren with social anxiety disorder. Gris, the government official they brought along—a pint-size golem hiding in Zoey’s magic handbag—and the O.G.R.E. foreman, Frankie the Imp, run off to the men’s room to negotiate. Zoey is left to wonder about her life choices and whether she’ll ever see her purse again.

Book five, Demons in My Driveway, releases soon, so I can’t give away too much without spoiling it. But Zoey and her team are trying to avoid the zombie apocalypse. The harbingers of the apocalypse come chanting up her driveway, Hidden creatures failing in their attempt to appear human: a female gargoyle in a blue polyester pantsuit, a satyr in shirt and trousers, a harpy in an overcoat. They’re not fooling anybody.

The final book in the series, Phoenix in My Fortune, isn’t out until next March. But I’ll tell you a secret: it begins with a bucket of purple house paint, a pygmy dragon and rainbow-toe socks.

I still don’t set out to be funny. But apparently, my mind is a ridiculous place.

My Dreams in the Witch House

A1QXspo7O6L._SL1500_J.D. Horn, author of the upcoming new release The Void, gives us an exclulsive look into the witches from his popular Witching Savannah series.

In The Line, first book in the Witching Savannah series, our heroine tells us that her family moved to Savannah shortly after the end of the American Civil War. Whenever someone asks me where the Taylors lived before that point, I tell a little lie, a lie that conveys a deeper truth. In the actual backstory, the family came to Savannah directly from Ireland. The lie I enjoy telling, though, is that they came from Providence, RI, beloved home of H.P. Lovecraft. Why lie about something I’ve made up anyway? Because the deeper truth is that my witches have much more in common with Keziah Mason, the titular witch of Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch House, than with any of the other popular fictional witches. 

The magic in the world of the Witching Savannah series has many roots, but the deepest is firmly anchored in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. (Many readers would have picked up on my affectionate homage to Brown Jenkin in Witching Savannah’s second book, The Source.) In my fancy, Lovecraft’s deities, be they the “Outer Gods,” the “Great Old Ones,” or “Elder Gods,” merged together with Zacharia Sitchin’s Anunnaki and Erich Von Däniken’s ancient alien astronauts. These entities melded in my mind to form my version of the old gods, the creatures who meddled in our evolution and gave rise to both witches and those of us who have no magic. After the great rebellion, the line, a magical web of energy, was created by witches to protect us all from these demon gods.

But Lovecraft isn’t the sole inspiration behind the magic of Witching Savannah. A few historical personages also found their way into the brew. Physically beautiful, but spiritually monstrous Maria Orsic, leader of the Vril Gessellschaft, an occult organization that took its name from a work by Edward Bulwer-Lytton—yes, he of the dark and stormy night—plays a role in the backstory, as does a certain unnamed American aviation hero, whose public good guy image covered many dark truths.

The final mystical ingredients were supplied by Jack Parsons, the rocket scientist and occultist, who blew himself up allegedly while performing a magical rite. Parsons was once a protégé of Aleister Crowley and best friend of L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology. In life, Parsons attempted to bridge the gap between the occult and science; for me Parsons provided the link between the worlds of Occult Fiction and Science Fiction.

 

 

Exclusive Q&A with Jim Butcher

The newest graphic novel from the Dresden Files series, "Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: War Cry" is available now. The prolific author talks to about working in a visual medium, cosplay, and what we can expect for the future of the series.Warcry

Q1: Did the artist nail the images of your characters that you had in your head? Was it fun to be part of that creative process?

Jim Butcher: I'm a writer.  In my head, the characters' actual appearance tends to be a little amorphous--to me, it's their internal characteristics that I see most sharply and completely.  That said, I love seeing visual representations of my characters.  Whether its professional art or fan art, it never stops being a thrill to see my characters represented.

I've had a good time being a part of the process at Dynamite.  It gives me a chance to tell different kinds of stories, with a much different emphasis.  And besides, it's a freaking comic book!  How could that not be fun to help make?

Q2: What do you think of fans cosplaying your characters?

JB: I love it!  Seeing fans cosplay your characters is how you know you've made it. :)  My only problem is that I just don't look like any of the characters from the Dresden Files, so I can't cosplay them.  But everyone else gets to have fun, and that's the important thing.

Q3: What can you tell us about Harry’s fate towards the end of the series? What kinds of challenges should we look forward to?

Warcry_sketch1JB: I can tell you that I'm not going to tell you that.  Duh.

The next book, Peace Talks, is gonna be all about a large peace summit in Chicago between all the supernatural powers.  I'm sure that everyone will settle down and have a nice reasonable talk, and then a light supper, and then some friendly social time in which they'll all sing together and get along just fine, and in no way find a way to blame Harry Dresden for all of their troubles.

Q4: Are there any clues you can give us about what Mab’s true intentions are for Harry?

Well, I can tell you that Mab never lies outright.  She'll lie by omission, lie by telling you true things that mislead you, lie by allowing others to misinform you, lie by allowing you to leap to assumptions that are entirely wrong, but she never lies outright.  Everything she's told Harry that she wants from him is true.  But you can be fairly sure that she hasn't told Harry everything.

Q5:  Do you ever get sick of writing in the Dresden universe? Are you excited for The Cinder Spires series?

JB: I do get sick of that guy at times, but that's why I write other projects.  Once I've gotten to spend some time in another world, going on other adventures, I'm always happy to get back in the saddle with Dresden.  The Cinder Spires is already the longest book I've ever written, and I'm not quite done yet.  I'm very excited to be building a new world and putting together a new set of stories which are tailored for it.

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A Brief History of Materials Magic

81LN+EsvHVL._SL1500_Charlie Holmbergauthor of the new Paper Magician Series, gives us an exclusive look at her unique magic system in The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician novels.

Excision, the use of flesh and blood as a medium for spells, is by far the oldest materials magic. Its roots dig deep into the soil of pre-history. Because of this, Excision spells are spoken in a language nearly impossible to translate. Historic linguists—at least, those willing to study the taboo subject of Excision—believe the old tongue has a few similarities with ancient Sumerian, but unfortunately not enough to derive clear translations.

Excision is far more complex than any other materials magic. It’s theorized that this is because the material, humans, is the only organic substance known to be castable, and therefore vastly more complex than other bondable materials. Due to its violent nature, Excision is illegal in most countries and often subject to capital punishment. The few men and women permitted by government to learn this “dark art” for purposes of healing and law enforcement are called Binders, and their existence is a secret closely guarded from the general public.  

Pyromancy, or fire magic, is also incredibly old. There is no known date for its discovery, though historians believe it was first used 7,500–7,800 years ago in Africa. The oldest written records for Pyromancy are found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The Romans are credited for expanding Pyromancy, especially pertaining to warfare. Early documentation details its use in the Roman-Sabine wars. The Romans, for obvious reasons, were quite proprietary with their fire magic. However, Flavius Odoacer, the first King of Italy, is at least partly responsible for sharing spells with Germanic tribes sometime around 470 AD, ultimately contributing to the final fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The next materials magic to be discovered was Folding: magic cast through paper. Folding originated in Japan during the late Heian period, about 1100 AD. Animations of Folded paper, or ikite iru origami, were the first spells documented. Folding spread to Europe in the sixteenth century after Portugal’s early interactions with Japan, and spells involving cutting, tearing, and drawing on paper emerged in the centuries following.

Despite the early use of glass in many ancient cultures, Gaffing wasn’t mastered until 1304 AD in China—most likely brought about by competition with Japan. An early example of Gaffing was found in the Shenyang Imperial Palace, where mirrors were disguised as windows and doors with spells that created the illusion of wealth beyond the frame.

Siping, or rubber magic, was discovered in 1850 by Englishman Thomas Hancock, founder of the British rubber industry. Hancock published multiple papers on the topic, and Siping grew rapidly as a result. He is credited for discovering both the “Bounce” spell, which will make a rubber ball bounce continuously, and the “Quicken” spell, which is placed upon the rubber soles of shoes to give their wearer the ability to run more swiftly.

Hancock’s discovery and subsequent fame launched broad interest in magic across the world, setting off a race to find the next castable material. The winner was American chemist Marcus Dunn. Not only did he invent plastic in 1872, but he also learned that the material could be bonded. He discovered the “Melt” command shortly thereafter. Polymaking—plastic-based magic—is the newest and least explored materials magic to date.

The World of Ice and Fire: A Look at the Interior Pages

6a00e54ed05fc2883301b8d084a67a970c-500wiThe World of Ice and Fire is here. Below is a look at some of the pages from inside the book(click on each page to get a closer look).

Here are some specs:

• full-color artwork and maps, with more than 170 original pieces
• full family trees for Houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen
• in-depth explorations of the history and culture of Westeros
• 100% all-new material, more than half of which Martin wrote specifically for this book

The publisher describes it as "the definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe." Sure seems like it.

 

 

 

 

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“The Wall and Beyond” chapter opener; art depicts The Wall and Castle Black

 

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Title Page; art depicts Aegon the Conqueror upon Balerion, the Black Dread

 

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“The Glorious Reign” chapter opener; art depicts The Red Keep and King’s Landing

 

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 Endpapers depicting Dragonstone

Getting Real Through Fantasy

81+IePxfFqL._SL1500_A.R. Kahler, author of the "Cirpue des Immortals" series, discusses his approach to writing fantasy and introduces us to some of his new and upcoming titles.

Many people believe that works of fantasy are detached from 'real life.' After all, if the situations are unreal, then the topics covered must follow suit.

I think, however, most fantasy authors and readers realize that these imaginative worlds allow us to explore the more controversial aspects of life. Not because of anything magical, but because creating a world slightly (or very) different from our own creates a safe space to investigate. We can comment on government or gender roles without pinpointing a singular event in history. We can make broad or specific statements and put them in a larger spectrum. Often, this is through creating a dystopian society, or a conflict that highlights a specific issue. Sometimes, however, the greatest commentary a story can make is to create its own vision of a perfect world. The reader will form the contrasts on their own.

In that vein, this past week I've been able to share two very different projects that explore some pretty gut-level stuff in fantastic worlds.

Martyr, the first in a post-apocalyptic YA series, follows Tenn, a young man with the ability to control the elements in a fight against humanoid monsters. Although it's action-packed and explosive, one of the most important aspects of the book (and series) to me is the relationship between characters. Tenn is deeply in love with a man he fears the world will never let him settle down with. His allies are nearly-silent fraternal twins with secrets that could destroy all trust. And his enemy is as alluringly convincing as he is dangerous.

I wanted to create a world where a protagonist's sexuality wasn't a 'thing'--after all, if society is crumbling, labels like gay or straight would be the last thing on everyone's mind. I often wonder what it means that I had to write an apocalyptic world for that to be the case.

I'm also excited to announce Changeling (Amazon store detail page for this book is coming soon), the spinoff for my Cirque des Immortels series. This urban fantasy answers a question I've always wanted to ask: we hear of the families who wake up to a Changeling—or faerie—in place of their own baby, but what happens to the stolen child?

Claire is a mortal girl who's grown up in the other world of Faerie and is Queen Mab's right-hand assassin. When things start to go south in the Faerie realm, she's sent into the mortal world to find the cause of the trouble. Although the story is very plot-driven, I'm excited to explore the human world through an outsider's eyes—she'll get to experience everything we take for granted, from romance to rock-n-roll. I'm excited to see how someone brought up in the world of the Fey will view what our society deems sacred and profane.

Fantasy has always allowed us to explore the unknown, and I feel that the more our world view expands, the greater fantasy allows us to investigate the issues and situations right before our very eyes. We just might be too close to them—or too apprehensive—to peer any closer.

My Favorite Zombie Scares

91d2FZHsoVL._SL1500_Joe McKinney, author of the "The Savage Dead" shares with us his favorite zombie moments that sent chills down his spine.

There was a time when I could honestly say I had seen every zombie movie ever made and read every zombie story ever published. I can’t say that anymore, not truthfully anyway. Over the last few years, there’s been an abundance of zombie books, comics, video games, TV, movies, and stories—it almost equals the zombie apocalyptic scenarios described in those materials. I have tried to keep up though, and I’m glad I have, because there is some wonderfully terrifying stuff out there. There are some real duds of course, and you have to take the good with the bad, but I think I can help with the good. I was asked to list what I thought were the five most terrifying moments in the zombie genre, and while the field is large, my choices were surprisingly easy to make.

My top five most terrifying moments in the zombie genre:

“Bitter Grounds,” Written by Neil Gaiman

This short story, first anthologized in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson, and later collected in Neil Gaiman’s short story collection, Fragile Things, tells the story of an emotionally broken man who happens to meet an anthropology professor while driving through the American South. It is a complex, and very subtle story of loss, love, pain, and terror that comes from the deserts of the mind, rather than the slathered gore where most zombie stories get their money shots. There is a scene at the end of the story, where the main character sees the chicory girls walking down the halls of his hotel that sent chills up my spine. But even that chilling moment was overshadowed by the realization the reader makes about the main character long after the story is told. There is a long-standing adage among fiction writers that the first line of your story should mean one thing when you read it for the first time, and something completely different by the time you finish the tale.  Nowhere is that adage more deftly illustrated than in this terrifying story.

Night of the Living Dead, Directed by George Romero

Romero, and others, have revisited the Living Dead franchise so many times it’s hard to keep the whole thing straight.  But for all the different versions and remakes and deleted/added scenes, to my mind, the franchise never again reached the high water mark it achieved with the original 1968 black and white release of Night of the Living Dead. There were moments in that film, especially those long shots of the zombies staggering through the Pennsylvania countryside, so terrifying they prompted a very young teenage version of me to go to bed for months afterward with a baseball bat cradled in my arms. Few horror movies have ever truly scared me, but Night of the Living Dead most certainly did. In fact, it was the reason I started writing zombie stories.

“Dead Like Me,” by Adam-Troy Castro

This one tops the list as my all time favorite work of zombie fiction. Zombie stories have long been recognized for their capacity to capitalize on metaphor, and nowhere is that more provocatively displayed than in Castro’s powerful indictment of conformity as a form of death. Aside from the story’s technical brilliance, its presentation of a man so scared of death he’s willing to become it left me trembling the first time I read it. Rarely has zombie fiction reached such a pitch. I think this story should be mandatory reading for any author wanting to publish a zombie story; it’s that good.

Serpent and the Rainbow, Directed by Wes Craven

This 1988 film, loosely based on the book of the same name by Wade Davis, is probably Wes Craven’s best movie. In it, a Doctor named Allen goes to Haiti looking for the drug that causes zombiefication. Like Gaiman’s “Bitter Grounds,” the book and film are both throwbacks to the pre-Romero voodoo zombie, which hasn’t attracted the same slavish devotion from zombie fans as Romero’s zombies. I think that’s a shame, I find the zombies of films like as Val Lewton’s I Walked With a Zombie and Halperin’s White Zombie extremely scary. Serpent and the Rainbow is a worthy descendant of those early horror films, it attains many moments of true terror in its 90 odd minutes. The best, and easily the most terrifying of those moments comes in a dream sequence, as the main character, Dr. Allen, dreams of being pulled into the earth by the rotting corpses of Haiti’s dark and troubled past. This one wins an A+ on the terror grading scale.

Cargo, Directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke

Horror is one of those genres best served short and sweet. There have been countless great horror novels and films, but rarely do the scares work as powerfully as they do when delivered in short stories. And, more recently, in short films.  One of the biggest surprises for me came from Cargo, the award-winning Australian zombie film from directors Howling and Ramke. Often jokingly dubbed “The Walking Dad” by zombie fans, this movie is far from funny. In fact, it’s one of the most grueling and emotional horror films you’re likely to find. It tells the story of a father bitten by a zombie, his wife already dead, hideously changed into one of the walking dead, and he knows he doesn’t have long before he suffers the same fate. The real terror comes when we see his year old infant is blissfully unaware of the impending danger, and completely dependent on her dad to get her to safety. The dad knows he won’t make it far, and if he’s to get his daughter to safety, he has to think of something quickly. His solution is both brilliant and heartbreaking, and for a father like me, it represents a terror so real and immediate that if it doesn’t bring you to tears, you need to check your pulse, you’re probably already a zombie.

And, because there are so many great zombie video games out there, and because I didn’t include one in this list, I’ll give you an Honorable Mention.

Dead Trigger 2

Right now, I’m totally addicted to this first person shooter game. It’s available as an app for most tablets and smartphones, though I play it on my iPad. I love the lush environments the game offers, the easy interface, but above all, the chilling sound effects really manage to make you feel like the living dead are closing in from every side. For me, that claustrophobic closeness has always been at the heart of why zombie stories terrify, and this video game comes the closest to capturing that feeling outside of a book.

Do you agree?  If not, challenge me with yours. What are your favorites?

Sequels: On Not Being That Guy

51e7ycj3NaLPatrick Weekes, author of "The Prophecy Con", gives a closer look at two of his favorite series through his lense.

We have all seen That Guy. He's the one who tosses off a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, gets a laugh, and then continues tossing off quotes for the next five minutes while everyone gets progressively more uncomfortable. That Guy thinks that because the joke was funny, he should tell it again, and he won't stop until that joke is dead on the ground.

When I set out to write a sequel to The Palace Job, I wanted to keep things fresh and fun, but I was worried about losing what I loved about the world and the heroes. I was determined to avoid, at all costs, being That Guy.

My two favorite series in the funny crime fantasy genre, a somewhat stretchy and generously defined genre I just made up, are Terry Pratchett's City Watch series (a subset of his Discworld books) and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. The books in both series vary in tone (and in both cases, often grow darker and more complex), but both still make me laugh out loud, and both have kept a core group of characters funny and lovable for many years by doing all the things I was initially afraid to do.

Circumstances Change, People Grow: In Guards! Guards!, Sam Vimes is a down-on-his-luck captain in the Night Watch, and Carrot is a wide-eyed new recruit. Many authors would have left them in that state forever, because a cranky cynical Vimes and a naive Carrot are hilarious. By the time we get to Thud!, though, Vimes is a respected commander with a wife and family, and Captain Carrot is older and wiser... and they're still just as funny, and more importantly, still themselves. Vimes directs his world-weary cynicism at nobles instead of cutpurses now, but his attitude remains the same. Carrot may know how the world works, but he's still fundamentally noble and decent in a world of people who aren't. Changing the circumstances lets the characters grow up instead of growing stale, and gives Pratchett constant new material for his heroes to bounce off of in their adventures.

If is Less Fun than How: In Storm Front, the first novel of the Dresden Files, private detective and wizard Harry Dresden is at one point handcuffed to a railing, being attacked by giant scorpions, in a building that is on fire, and that is not actually the most dangerous part of the scene in question. By the time we get to Skin Game, readers have seen Dresden deal with a demon in his head, become bound in service to the queen of the dark fairies, and debatably die. I was worried about how to keep readers entertained with threats, given that at the end of my first book, it was clear that all my heroes got out alive. What I realized from reading Butcher is that it doesn't matter that I know Harry Dresden is going to survive. What matters is how it happens. There are much more entertaining things to do to the heroes than just kill them, and the how can keep the reader invested.

My new novel, The Prophecy Con, moves my heroes forward without changing what I loved about them when I wrote them the first time. I look forward to seeing whether I have been That Guy.

What's Your Favorite Five-Star Fantasy?

81EHlTwtT4L._SL1500_Jay Kristoff, author of the newly released "Kinslayer", book 2 of "The Lotus War" series, shares with us how he was impacted by one of his favorite fantasy novels.

What’s your favorite Five-Star fantasy?

Ah, this is a really hard question to answer. And my answer isn’t a very cool one, but I suppose I’ve never really been “cool” so why bother pretending now.

I’d have to say The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. And I know it’s almost hip to look down on old prof Tolkien nowadays. I know it’s not cool to acknowledge the impact Tolkien had on the fantasy set, how it’s far more hipster to dissect the work until nothing remains. Yes, Tolkien was hopelessly in love with a concept of agrarian England that never really existed. Yes, his work is racist, and classist and elitist. Yes, his female characters are paper-thin or non-existent, yes the first half of FotR and most of TT is terribly boring. And yes, the writing is stilted in parts, and he’s overly fond of the Deus Ex Machina, or Aquilam Ex Machina as the case may be.

However, books are about more than the words inside them. Books are about who you are when you read them, and the person you changed into at the end of them. Books are about having your eyes opened, your mind expanded, your imagination set on fire. And The Hobbit was the first novel that really did that for me. When I first read it, I was maybe nine or ten years old. I was interested in dragons and knights and castles while a lot of my buddies were interested in football. I was introverted and nerdy and I had NO idea books like The Hobbit even existed.

When I found it (and please, can we all give a cheer for school librarians), it was like someone opened a door to an entirely new world. When I first picked it up and fell into its pages, I finally realized there were books out there for kids like me. I realized I wasn’t alone in my love of the terribly nerdy things no one else I knew seemed to be interested in.  And for me (and I suspect countless others) The Hobbit was a gateway into a lifetime of reading. Not only in terms of the books it lead me to, but the books it lead others to write, which I discovered in turn. For good or ill, I’m not entirely sure anyone can realistically discount the impact Tolkien and The Hobbit had on modern fantasy. I’m not entirely sure what the genre would look like without him, and the genre is full of books I love. So yes, while Middle Earth and Tolkien can be effectively dissected, and the problems within are problems and worthy of discussion, the works themselves have inspired countless others, and lead to the formation of a genre I literally couldn’t live without (since, you know, it pays my mortgage now).

So, hats off to Bilbo Baggins. Thanks for paying my electricity bill, little buddy.