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Thursday, September 27, 2007

CONTEST: Win a Free Book - Closed

Do you want to be our friend? We would like to be yours, and give you a free book!

October 1-7 is Buy A Friend A Book Week . Yes, we know this is another one of those made-up holidays like Sweetest Day and Valentine's Day, but it's a good excuse for us to have some fun and give away a prize.

So until October 7th, we want you to tell us why you are such a good friend - and maybe win a free book!

How to Enter

Just fill out the form at the bottom of this post with the message explaining why you are such a great friend to Mister Troll, Billy Goat, or both.

Winning

Together, Mister Troll and I will select one winner based on the content of his or her message. We will judge each entry based on creativity and cleverness, and together pick the one we think is best.

The Prize

The winner will select one book that has been explicitly named by Mister Troll or me (Billy Goat) on Books Under the Bridge. Books Under the Bridge will purchase the book from Amazon.com and send the book to the winner, along with a personal letter. Also, the winner will have his or her entry posted on Books Under the Bridge, with a possible link back to the winner's blog.

The Rules

  • One entry per person.
  • Entries limited to 100 words. Any extra words will be ignored.
  • Winner will be notified by E-mail.

Further Rules Clarifications
  • All contest submissions must be received by 11:49 PM EDT on October 7, 2007.
  • If a book is named by Mister Troll or Billy Goat in the Books Under the Bridge comments, this book can be selected by the winner.
  • The winner's selected book cannot cost Books Under the Bridge more than 25 US dollars (including shipping costs). If the named book cannot be bought for this price or less, the winner will be asked to select another book.
  • If the winner's selected book cannot be purchased new, Books Under the Bridge will purchase this book in used condition. The winner will be notified in such a case, and allowed to select a different book if he or she so chooses.
  • If the winner selects a short story listed on Books Under the Bridge, we will attempt to purchase an anthology that includes the story. If we cannot purchase an anthology with this story, the winner will be allowed to select a different book.
  • The winner will be notified by E-mail. If he or she does not respond within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
  • You own the text of your entry, but by entering, you give Books Under the Bridge permission to reproduce your entry free of charge on Books Under the Bridge, and in any future print or electronic media produced by Books Under the Bridge.


This contest has closed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Recommended: Come, Lady Death

Recommended: "Come, Lady Death" (Peter S. Beagle)

Peter S. Beagle is one of those authors who is somehow both well-known and almost unknown at the same time. He has a remarkably charming writing style, and his stories have the sincerity of children's books, but with a slightly disturbing, bittersweet flavor to them. A wonderful introduction to his work is the short story "Come, Lady Death," which you can find in the highly-recommended The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle, among other places.

"Come, Lady Death" is the story of the jaded Lady Neville; her biggest and best party simply must be attended by Death himself. The other nobility don't seem to know where Death lives (though surely he has an estate at least as large as theirs?). In a moment of unusual inspiration and--some--empathy, the Lady Neville recalls her hairdresser mentioning his gravely ill child. The hairdresser is instructed to carry an invitation. And so Death comes to Lady Neville's ball.

The remaining stories in The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle are longer, and perhaps more satisfying (but less charming; and therefore I mention them in passing). The Last Unicorn is the -- well, you get the picture. It's a muddled tale of an incompetent wizard, an evil king in an evil castle, and a prince madly in love with an unappreciative lady; all these things mushed together, and the lonely and lost Unicorn shines through it all. Lovely. A Fine and Private Place is odder still: Mr. Rebeck lives in a cemetery, a harmless old man who prefers the newly dead for company; but a raven is his only friend.

Even if your library doesn't carry The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle, I think you'll find it easy to order it through an interlibrary loan. Online booksellers also carry some of his books, although this particular one is out of print.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Heroes is the Best Sci-Fi on TV

I'm a big fan of the television show, Heroes. In fact, I think it's the best show with a science fiction theme on TV. Season two starts this coming Monday, and as it approaches, I have been thinking about why I am so excited. I decided to write the reasons down for you, in case you do not already watch the show. They are all good reasons for you to get involved!

Killer Episodes

Although the series is consistently good, with each and every episode worth watching, there are a few that are phenomenal. These killer episodes include two of my favorites, one that delves into the past, and one that peers into the future.

In Company Man we get to see the gradual transformation of the character Mr. Bennett from an agent, just doing his job, into something greater. This moving episode shines with its interplay between Bennett, his adopted daughter Claire, and his associates in the sinister organization known as The Company. It's probably the episode that made him my favorite character in the show, despite his not being one of the heroes. With episodes like this, not only do we get great action and fancy special effects, but we get powerful drama as well.

Five Years Gone shows us a future world, one in which the event the heroes are trying to stop has already happened: an atomic blast has devastated New York. The episode centers around the time-traveling Hiro Nakamura, and it really is a piece of work. There is major character development among all of the surviving characters, and clues for future development. The best part about the episode is that it leaves you grasping at the possibilities. Based on how certain characters act, what they know when, and what happens to them throughout the rest of the season, it becomes difficult to tell if and how the timeline will be altered. Will Hiro and the rest of the heroes stop the explosion? And if so, how much will play out the same? And what really happened to cause this dystopic future, because clearly some of the characters have their facts wrong (including the ones driving the episode, which is somewhat similar to the unreliable narrator trope). The episode reminds me of something I would find in a book I'd recommend.

Mood, Atmosphere, and Details

Heroes excels at creating a good atmosphere. Every show is opened and closed with a brief topical voiceover from the character Dr. Suresh. His topics range from evolution to the nature of loss. And normally, I'm not a big fan of voice overs, but his charge each episode's atmosphere. And the music during his little monologues enhances the effect. I don't really notice music throughout the rest of the show, but this music, along with the show's theme, draws you in. It's haunting, mysterious, melancholy, and it wraps a cord around your heart and yanks. There is just something about it.

Furthermore, there are other details in the show that make it breathe. These are just little things, but they add up. Some examples:

  • Each episode name is shown as a part of the scenery in the opening scene of each episode.
  • In one episode, Hiro creates a model consisting of timelines for all of the heroes in an attempt to change history. It is a hanging model of string, newspaper clippings, and pictures, tied together at various junctions where major actors in the story meet. It's a neat little piece of scenery that adds to his character and the story.
  • The viewer is continually taken back to certain key locations, among them a specific balcony overlooking New York. On its ledge, we are shown the destruction of the city, and a number of other significant events. By going back time and again, we get a feel for the Heroes universe, and we learn clues about the relationships between the characters.
Character Death Done Right

Major characters die in this show, sometimes unexpectedly. However, when they die, they die right. They don't die of stupid random occurrences with no meaning. And even when they suffer, even when we see a friend's death coming, it's pulled off well. The old lines about "life not being fair," "bad things happen to good people," and, "sometimes people just die," do not apply to character death. The writers seem to understand that we don't want this kind of silly, overdone lesson. We know it already from real life. We want heroic deaths, meaningful deaths, deaths that add to the story. And we get them.

Plot Forethought, Consistency, and Pacing

A consistent science fiction plot differentiates a work of art from simple entertainment, and Heroes nails it. The plot of season one was written before the show was filmed. You can tell this when you watch it. It has consistency and foreshadowing, and the season finale wraps up the major plot points for the season. Thankfully, the writers are not making it up as they go along.

Now, it's not perfect. If you follow news about the show, you know that minor changes have been made to the plot. However, this is inevitable with the nature of television, and it's better than any other show I've seen. Previously, I had thought that Battlestar Galactica had this as well, but then season three came along. The head writer admitted that he had not determined the identities of the cylon (bad guys) sleeper agents until then, and his laziness was visible when the revelations came. However, Heroes succeeds where BSG fails. Sure, some minor characters left during season one because of contractual issues. Also, Mr. Bennett's role grew from minor to major character as his fan base grew. But the meat of the plot stayed true and consistent, like a good book. And that's something to which every show should aspire.

Pacing is also tremendously well done. There are no one-off episodes for viewers to tolerate (see BSG season three) as they wait for the main plot to unfold. Instead, we get regular wow moments, and a plot that continues to move forward each and every episode. Following from that, we get a complete story for one whole season, not a drawn-out series of empty episodes pushed by some exec cheerfully grabbing for the show's udders. Unlike with many other shows, I rarely found myself yelling at the TV to, "Come on! Get on with it already!"

Conclusion

I know I'm going to be watching the first episode on Monday. If season two is as good as season one was, I will be ecstatic. If you're as into Sci-Fi as I am, you should check it out as well. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised, because it really is the best Sci-Fi on TV.

For Fans
If you're interested in some Heroes discussion, hit the comments or meet me in the forums.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Few Thoughts on Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan died today.

In high school, his series, The Wheel of Time, was one of the major stories I followed. I plowed through each book as I found it, whether it was at the local library, or left under the tree for me at Christmas. And I told my cousins (best friends, and fellow readers) Chad and Todd about The Wheel of Time.

Then, I caught up to Mr. Jordan's writing, and started a cycle of anticipation, waiting for each next book to be published. During the down time, I'd speculate with Chad and Todd on what future plot points would hold. Our speculations were wild and filled with laughter, and sometimes we were right ("Rand will marry all three of them!" I remember saying, to grins and rolled eyes). This continued until we finished high school, and through the first years of college.

These books were important for us as young fantasy readers, and they gave us much - a vivid world full of magic and wonder, haunted characters, and a few brave young men to identify with.

As time moved on, book after book appeared in the series, and the story began to drag out. My cousins and I joked that Robert Jordan would die before he finished the series, and we'd never get to see the conclusion. After talking to others over the years, I'm sure the sentiment was not uncommon. It turns out our jokes were right, unfortunately. Makes them not seem quite so funny, with real life poking its nose in, the ghost of unfinished business, and all that.

In recent years I was not his biggest fan. I stopped reading his books. I saw them as trite, I grew annoyed with the characters ("He can't write female characters," I remember saying), and I was tempted to skip the bulk of each new book to just read the end. I picked up some of the later books when they hit the bargain book section, but did not read them. I thought he had succumbed to milking the story for money, and I thought it was terrible that he'd wreck his story for a few more bucks. Now, I just think that the story got away from him.

I do not know if I will ever finish reading The Wheel of Time, even if the rumors I've heard of his wife writing out the last book are true. However, even if I don't, I want to give a shout out to Robert Jordan. He has affected many lives with his work. He's done what we, as writers, strive to do, even as some of us book snobs take our pot shots. As someone who once had to fight a deadly disease, and as someone who writes, I've found him to be a brave man, someone I'm happy to identify with.

Monday, September 10, 2007

How not to hate Beowulf

Billy Goat just panned the trailer the upcoming movie, Beowulf. No objection here. It's true I hadn't even heard it was coming out yet, but Beowulf has been done before -- BADLY (The Thirteenth Warrior; they say it's based on a Michael Crichton novel. No: Beowulf.).

But, but, but, my dear bridge-goers, to criticize the poem itself, oh no, that I will not stand for! Old Billy Goat has the temerity to borrow my treasured copy of Beowulf and then to dismiss it so casually? It's "like wading through muck"?! (Maybe Billy Goat just meant that as a slur on my lifestyle. Listen, this bridge has been in the family a long time. So I don't clean under every rock all the time. Humph.)

But listen, why don't you have a seat here under the bridge, and let me explain...

How not to hate Beowulf

One of the oldest extant works of what is arguably considered English literature, Beowulf hardly needs introduction; who hasn't read it in school? (And who didn't hate it when they did?) I place the blame squarely on the largely abominable translations available. Instead, avail yourself of Howell D. Chickering's dual-language translation: English, and Old English, on facing pages.

(This is the version I loaned Billy Goat. A large metropolitan library should have it; it's been recently re-issued, so you can find it at the major online booksellers as well: Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition).

Mr. Chickering's edition has an admirable introduction that discusses not merely the structure of the poem, but also the social context in which the action, and lack thereof, takes place. The latter is important to understand for the impatient modern reader, who, for example, can easily become frustrated at a lengthy discussion of the history of the hero's sword - right at a crucial moment in the fighting. The surviving text of Beowulf is also damaged in parts; it pays well to at least realize that at many spots, specific words (even entire passages) have been omitted or lost, and perhaps reconstructed.

How to love Beowulf

Beowulf is an alliterative poem, a high and sadly lost art. To appreciate it, you must take some time to learn the sounds of Old English and the various meter styles. It was intended to be heard, not read, and you will be doing yourself a favour if you acquire a little bit of the sound and feel of the poem. Hence, my suggestion that you read at least some of it in Old English. Don't worry, Old English isn't hard to pronounce (and Mr. Chickering's book will give you the brief introduction you need). When you read this poem out loud, you'll hear the similarities with modern English; it's not as different as it seems when written.

Let's pull out a little phrase towards the end of the poem, and see what we can learn. The hero Beowulf, by now an aged man, must fight a dragon who ravages the countryside. It turns out the dragon was awoken by a thief who steals a cup from the dragon's hoard.

I've simplified the writing somewhat (with apologies to real scholars!), but read this out loud, just for fun. Can you feel the alliteration? Do the words start to fall into peculiar rhythm? Imagine yourself a Anglo-Saxon bard, reciting manful deeds in front of the hall table. It doesn't matter if you don't understand the words; give them heart!

"... Hord-weard onbad
earfothliche, othat aefen cwom;
waes tha yebolyen beoryes hyrde
wolde se latha liye forgyldan
drinc-feat dyre. Tha weas daey sheashen
wyrme on willan..."

Done? Then let's take a look at the translation (Mr. Chickering's, naturally):

".... The hoard-keeper waited,
miserable, impatient, till evening came.
By then the barrow-snake was swollen with rage,
wanted revenge for that precious cup,
a payment by fire. The day was over
and the dragon rejoiced."

Now let's listen to the Old English fragment once or twice more. The alliteration is relatively subtle, with the consonants and vowels used to connect words and phrases. (The meter is subtler still, and follows more than one pattern.)

See for yourself what the alliteration does. The first stress in the second half of each line connects with one or more stresses in the first half. "aefen" (evening) connects to "earfothliche" (impatiently); "beoryes" (barrow) with "yebolyen" (became angry); "latha" (hateful) and "liye" (flaming); "daey" (day) with "drinc" and "dyre" (drink and precious, as in precious drinking-vessel); "willan" (rejoiced) and "wyrme" (dragon). The meaning of each word is strengthened by the alliterative connections. The barrow seems to constrict as the dragon's anger grows. The golden sun is dimmed, and night has come. Can you feel the dragon's hot joy when at last it bursts free of its lair to pour forth hatred and fire?

I think we can easily find alliterative connections between lines as well: "weard" (keeper) connects with "wyrme" (dragon); "onbad" (waited) with "othat" (until); and "forgyldan" (pay for) with "latha" and "liye". These alliterative connections are outside of the technical alliterative conventions, but in each case the meaning is strengthened. Even the conventional, but superficially odd, link between day, cup, and precious is meaningful; the golden treasure is compared to the sun (indeed, as the vessel has been taken from the hoard, so has the sun been taken from the sky).

The alliteration makes a kind of web, as words, phrases, and lines are all linked together. We're not used to seeing so many interlocking connections in writing, and so it certainly takes effort to appreciate the raw beauty of the poem. The translation alone is relatively bland. (Of course not, for what poem can be translated? Is that not what it means to be a poem?) So to enjoy Beowulf, you must play a little game. Flip back and forth between the translation and original language. The translation will give you the sense, but the beauty is in the original.

Are there hobbits in Heorot Hall?

The thief might seem to be a minor character in Beowulf, perhaps just a plot device to bring forth the ire of the worm. Unfortunately, though, the manuscript is damaged at the very place where the thief is described. So who actually was this thief? And if we knew, would we interpret the poem differently?

One eminent scholar was certainly curious. I refer to Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, whose curiosity about the thief led, in no small way, to the wonderful story we know as The Hobbit. Yes, this is Bilbo Baggins' story (the ellipses indicate lost text):

"Not deliberately, for his own desires,
did he injure the dragon, break into his hoard,
but in desperate trouble this slave of nobles,
I know not who, fled angry blows,
homeless, roofless, entered that place,
a sin-troubled man. When he looked inside,
fear and terror rose in that guest.
But the frightful shape ....
... when fear overcame him
he seized the treasure-cup."

Or is it this?

"He stole from the shadow of the doorway, across the floor to the nearest edge of the mounds of treasure. Above him the sleeping dragon lay, a dire menace even in his sleep. He grasped a great two-handled cup, as heavy as he could carry, and cast one fearful eye upwards... but the dragon did not wake--not yet--but shifted into other dreams of greed and violence..."

Indeed, this is the central moment of The Hobbit (if we recognize that the sequels have not yet come). The similarities go beyond mere tropes. The Hobbit is a deliberate re-working of Beowulf, all told from the view of the unnamed thief who is so elusive in the original manuscript.

And realizing that, perhaps you will try one day to read The Hobbit out loud. Watch for the alliteration; when you hear it, you will catch echoes of a grand tale once told a thousand years before!

Farewell...

Well, that's enough for today - and quite enough, too, I can see from the expression on your face! Still, I thank you for your time. Oh, don't worry about the toll; your attention was plenty reward. May the road that carries you always be interesting. And... if I could ask one favour... should you happen to run into my old friend, Billy Goat, could you ask him to return my @#%# book if he doesn't like it?!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Quick Take - Upcoming Fantasy Movies

I went to see Stardust a week back. I had read the book previously, and thought it was very good. The movie didn't live up to it, but I still enjoyed a couple of hours of lighthearted humor. I took notice of the upcoming fantasy movies, which follow the current trend of fantasy book-to-movie adaptations.

My thoughts:

Beowulf

Mister Troll lent me his copy of Beowulf a few years back. I did not enjoy it as much as he did, mostly because I found it difficult to read. It is an epic poem, originally written in Old English, and even though I was reading a translated version, reading it was like wading through muck.

But I have to say: Holy crap this movie looks bad. I like Neal Gaiman's work and all (he's co-directing it), but the movie trailer alone highlights three big problems:

1. Mrs. Gruff turned to me during the trailer and said, "Hey, it looks like a video game." She was right. It looked like a video game, and a bad one at that, including funky lighting, bad computer-generated monsters, and bad acting.

2. It deviates from the original story quite a bit. Grendel's mom trying to seduce Beowulf? What? Sure, the original tale wasn't that great either, mostly consisting of a big guy beating up some nasty monsters that attack his home. However, throwing in a weird seduction scene with a monster-lady Angelina Jolie does not really improve it (well, some might disagree).

3. It looks so cliched, so done already. The trailer features a zoom-out shot of big ugly Grendel (a nasty monster) screeching as it attacks. Haven't we seen this exact shot in five or six bad movies already? Come on, you can do better than that.

The Dark is Rising

This looked a little more promising to me. But then again, The Dark is Rising was one of my favorite series growing up. Some of the books in it were not that strong, but that's just Susan Cooper succumbing to Rule Number 1.

I also could not help but noticing Ian McShane playing a major role in the cast. McShane plays one of the major roles in the HBO series, Deadwood, which my father (Grandpa Gruff) hooked me on about a month ago. McShane's character, Al Swearengen, is one of the nastiest people imaginable, and McShane plays him to perfection. And somehow he manages to make you sympathize with the character (sometimes).

Spiderwick Chronicles

I'm really only including this movie for completeness. I have not read the books, but maybe I should check them out. The movie looks fun, filled with lots of creepy exploration and fantasy action.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Deep Reading Part 3 - Details, Patterns, Tropes

This post is part three of the series, Get More from your Book - Secrets to Deep Reading. In part two, I discussed the basic techniques of deep reading. Now that you know those techniques, I will describe some common details and patterns that authors put in their stories. Keep an eye out for these.

Symbols and Symbolism

If an object show up more than once in a story, it could be a symbol. As a symbol, it represents something other than itself. Maybe it represents a relationship, an aspect of a character's personality, or a theme.

Some symbols: The One Ring from J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the Claw of the Conciliator from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, the Turkish Delight in the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Events and descriptions can be symbolic as well. A character that destroys a significant symbol gains his freedom from whatever is symbolized. A character dressed in white clothes or with a pale face can be interpreted as innocent, soon to die, or already dead.

Tricky Authors - Language Ambiguity and Word Choice

By their nature, authors like to play with language. An author may use ambiguous words or metaphors that an unsuspecting reader will interpret one way by default. However, if the reader challenges his assumptions, he can discover a completely different interpretation.

One way you can be tipped off to an ambiguous reading is by looking at word choices an author makes. Be alert for figures of speech and descriptions that are all similar in meaning, that direct you a certain way if you read them as more than just fancy language. Also be aware of words and phrases that can have a double meaning. Lastly, look for words that stand out as odd or unusual.

Gene Wolfe epitomizes this type of behavior, especially in his short stories. An example can be found in his short story (published online), Unrequited Love. As you read the story, you may be tempted to envision the narrator to be like yourself, and you may make assumptions about him. This is a perfectly fine reading of the story. However, if you look at some of the clues the narrator drops throughout the story, some odd word choices, and his concerns, you may discover that the narrator is not the person you thought he was.

The Significance of Names

Names often have special significance in complex stories. What does the name mean? Does it contain a word, or is it similar to another word? A name can be used as a clue to a character's nature.

The short story linked above provides another good example. Wolfe was very deliberate in his naming - note that all the robotic characters have names that contain "Rob." Now note the name Julianne. At one point in the story she even explains the origin of her name, saying her father "is a cook." Looking at the name in this context, we find the common cooking term, "julienne," which is a technique for slicing vegetables. Now, I believe Wolfe provided these details as clues to the reader. Otherwise, there is no reason for them. What could he possibly be saying about this character? I'll leave that for you to figure out.

Useful tools for deciphering names: dictionary, foreign language references, religious references, mythology references, google, wikipedia

References, References, References!

References can be found in many other places - magical objects, mystical locations, and heroic deeds can all recall a related element of another story. Authors like to read, so it is not uncommon to see references to other pieces of fiction, especially fiction that the author liked! Of course, there can also be religious, mythical, and folklore references.

Another type of reference is the "Meta Reference." This happens when the author self-references the work you are reading in some way. When the author does it explicitly, it's a form of "Breaking the Fourth Wall," where the characters act like they know they are in a book and sometimes talk to the reader directly. However, the author can also be sneaky about it. His character can impart wisdom that can be intended for another character, but also for the reader, without throwing it in your face. If a character says, "Look closely!" to his little friend, then it could be a clue that he's also talking to you, the reader.

Parallelism - The Determiner of Fate

Parallelism happens when any two pieces of a story go through the same progression. I'll focus on characters, because I think character parallelism is the most obvious type. If two characters suffer the same or very similar circumstances, i.e. their circumstances parallel each other, the author has tied them together for some reason. If he resolves an issue for one, but moves the other character out of view, then chances are that he has implied that the missing character has received the same fate.

Also, parallelism can be used to imply different outcomes for two parallel characters. If all but one characteristic is the same between the parallel characters, the author may be making a point about that one different thing. If two parallel characters receive different fates when there is no big differentiator, then the author is probably trying to make a statement about luck or chance.

Tropes (What's a Trope?)

A trope is a symbol, theme, or device that is often repeated in a type of literature. Gutsy starship captains are a trope of Science Fiction. Enchanted forests are a trope of Fantasy.

Tropes are interesting because they define a genre. Now, you may think that tropes are evil things, like cliches. Not always. A good author can turn a trope on its head, or spin it in such a way as to make it unique and interesting. Recognizing a trope and seeing how an author made it unique is a fun way to analyze a story.

A trope of Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I believe deserves special note is the unreliable narrator. This character shows up sometimes, but you may not have recognized him before now. He tells you his story, but he may not always tell the truth. Or maybe he tells his version of "the truth," which is colored by his unique perspective or incorrect because of a flaw in his memory. You can spot the unreliable narrator by looking for inconsistencies in his story, or by watching for other characters to (sometimes subtly) contradict his story.

Stories in Stories (and Foreshadowing)

We see foreshadowing everywhere, and examples are easy to find. Foreshadowing can be found in speech, descriptions, and actions. There is a particular type of foreshadowing I want to mention, however: stories within the story (or sub-stories).

A sub-story is a book or oral story within the main story. Using symbolism, a sub-story can foreshadow or predict a future event in the story. I like to look at them the same way I look at dreams within a story. Prophetic dreams are a trope in many types of literature, and they are heavily used to foreshadow future events. Sub-stories can do the same thing, but are not as explicit, are sometimes less clear-cut, and are often not as goofy.

There's More!

Of course, there are more patterns you can look for when you read. This list is in no way complete, but it's a start to get you thinking about the book under your nose. Good luck finding them!

Speak Up!

If you have any ideas to add to this list, let me know in the comments! Also, if you read the Gene Wolfe story mentioned above (Unrequited Love), let me know what you figured out, what confused you, what you have almost-but-not-quite figured out, etc. I'd be happy to discuss it with you!

Coming Up!

There's one more installment to this series: Part 4: Community Spirt. In it, I'll discuss issues between authors and their reading communities. I'll also list and link to some discussion communities for Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature.