Hello! Firstly, thank you for everything that you do- your meta is always fascinating and your fic may have gotten me into ballet. Secondly- She Who Became The Sun: why is that book so good? I went in with such high expectations and yet somehow it completely met them!
words cannot contain how excited I am that folks are enjoying She Who Became the Sun!!!! look I just want the best things for Shelley Parker-Chan, all the time, okay
I feel like the reason SWBTS is so good is because it's so goshdarned competent on multiple levels of fiction writing, like:
plot: did you see that second-to-third act twist coming because I sure didn't
character: I feel like a lot of epic fantasy (or historical epic!) can struggle with humanizing their characters and allowing them to be flawed, hesitant people beyond their epic, prophesied purpose, but SPC manages to strike that careful balance between human and legend
themes: sometimes you read a book with excellent plot and characterization but then you get to the end of it and you're like "well, guess that was that" because when you actually look at it, the ideas and concepts in the book aren't all that complex. and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! I love rollicking good yarns! but SWBTS deals with some very morally gray characters and situations, especially with its main characters (love it when authors make their protagonists morally gray in a morally gray world, instead of morally pure in a morally gray world), and that's what gives it staying power in my mind
language: I lost my goddamn mind over SPC's use of translation and style in this book, the absolutely mind-boggling thing is that SWBTS reads like it's in translation and I'm just. yelling
content/concept: I mean, just like "founding of the Ming Dynasty but make it queer/historical fantasy/not at all what you'd expect" is just. SPC your MIND. and the fact that SPC sets their novel in identifiably Ming Dynasty China, from material details (can we talk about the scene where Ma is repairing armor with pages torn from books because holy shit) to place names to twists of language is so fucking cool. look, I respect authors who take their East Asian inspirations and set them in secondary world SF/F. in fact, I prefer those works (Ninefox Gambit my beloved), but for SPC to go "nah, I'm going to set it in what is identifiably China" is super fucking kickass, okay
novelty: Brandon Sanderson wrote a wild epilogue in Stormlight Archive where one of his characters (Hoid, I love you) muses on the nature of art, asking what is the most important thing in establishing the greatness of a work? And he comes to the conclusion that's not quality, nor is it ingenuity--it's novelty. It's doing something before anyone else does it. And I don't think anyone is doing it quite like SPC is--not Ken Liu, not R.F. Kuang, not Zen Cho (though don't get me wrong, those three authors are also creating incredible content). SPC really was like "I couldn't find any cdrama-like stories in English so I wrote my own" and then proceeded to do exactly that
tl;dr SWBTS is a tour de force on multiple levels
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what are some of your favourite books and your favourite types of books to read?
oh BIG question ok
i've been on a fantasy/sci fi kick recently- this is how you lose the time war by amal el-mohtar, the priory of the orange tree by samantha shannon and becky chambers' wayfarers series are big loves. tolkien and ursula k le guin were my childhood and also never fail to slap
i also love modern historical fiction i guess you'd call it? salt houses by hala alyan and do not say we have nothing by madeleine thien are favourites, as is anything by khaled hosseini (particulary and the mountains echoed)
also idk what the genre would be (semi-biographical?) but books like on earth we're briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong, three women by lisa taddeo or the refugees by viet thanh nguyen are my jam
lastly, author shoutout to anne carson, kazuo ishiguro and margaret atwood for having hit after hit after hit
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if i go dark it’s because tommy’s new video is making me experience emotions for the first time in two years.
like, i’m not sure how much crossover there’s gonna be between tommy’s audience and the soothouse ogs, but for those not in the know; this video absolutely reeks of soothouse content.
i’m living in hope that most of yall are at least tangentially aware of soothouse, but on the offchance you’re not, i’ll do my best to explain it. soothouse was the channel wilbur ran and was known for before he got his start as a solo creator. it was a group channel that did content which tommy’s latest video absolutely feels like an homage to. a lot of the people involved in soothouse are still around and still hanging (most notably rhianna, who’s a successful streamer in her own right) and it’s always a bit of a where’s wally because sometimes someone will post a vlog (fundy’s most recent one was good for this) and it’ll be like “hey i know them”. they were one of the big boy channels in the reading reddit genre when that was in its peak back in 2018/19, but we’re essentially the genesis of an entire genre of content that branched away slightly from the reddit mold.
but back on the topic of the “Dreams Comments” video. this latest endeavour from tommy would be completely at home on the Soothouse channel had dream been big back in the day. so to see tommy recording this video with David (original soothouse member) and Jack Manifold (who got his start talking about bread in the soothouse discord server and if you’ve never heard him tell that story then look it up im sure there’s clips (1 mill stream with niki i think he mentioned it?)) is just so special.
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