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What to Do With This Place?

  • May. 19th, 2015 at 5:47 PM

So I've recently found myself wondering what I should do with this space.  In the past I've used it to discuss my work at Realms of Fantasy, to post my RoF Retrospectives, to discuss my writing, to discuss my other editorial work, and also to obsessively compare and contrast HBO's Game of Thrones to the original books.  There have been other things mixed in along the way, but these five subjects have comprised the vast majority of my posts.

But at the moment, there really isn't much to talk about with any of them.  As I've made abundantly clear, I'm done watching HBO's Game of Thrones until the next book comes out for fear of spoilers, so obviously the accompanying posts are done with (and by the time I start watching the show again I doubt I'll renew these posts, as the episodes I'll be catching up on will be old news). Realms of Fantasy shut its doors for the final time three and a half years ago. (Can you believe it's been that long already?)  After that much time has passed, there isn't much to post about when it comes to the magazine anymore.  After about seven and a half years of working on and off on the RoF Retrospective series, I posted the concluding entry in the series about four months ago.  I should add that there actually will be some news about my retrospectives in the next month or two, but that's a bit down the road.  As to my editorial work outside the magazine, there's actually quite a bit of activity on this front, all of it pretty damn exciting, but none of it will be fit for public consumption for a while yet and there isn't much happening on the Oz Reimagined front these days.  That leaves my writing.  There isn't much to say here either.  I have a few shorter pieces on submission and I still have four pieces accepted by Weird Tales that are waiting to see the light of day.  Last year I started shopping around a young adult novel that I killed myself on.  An editor at a prominent house has expressed interest, but for various reasons that shouldn't be made public the novel is currently in a state of limbo.  I'm not sure when that will let up, but hopefully the answer is sooner rather than later.  Right now I'm devoting my writing energies to the sort of ambitious sword & sorcery/epic fantasy novel I've always wanted to write, but at this point I'm bogged down in world-building and character sketches.  The light at the end of the tunnel is close on that front, at which point I'll put together an initial outline, and then finally dive into the actual writing.  But updating you guys on the minutiae of my writing progress when I haven't even started writing the actual novel sounds pretty damn boring, even to me.

So this all begs the question of what I should do with this space?  I've had this account now for about nine years, so it seems like a shame to just abandon it.  But at the same time with all the defections that LiveJournal seems to be suffering, I honestly don't even know how many people bother reading my LiveJournal posts anymore.  So I'm putting up this post for a two reasons really:

1) To hopefully get an idea of how many people are still reading these entries.  If you are, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.  You don't have to say anything beyond "yes," "hi," etc.  I know some of you won't reply because that's how it goes sometimes, but if you did that would be great.  If I'm presented with actual evidence that a number of people are still reading these posts, I will make a concerted effort to keep this LiveJournal going, even if I have to reinvent it a bit until things pick up again on some of my usual posting topics.

2) And building off point number one, if there is anything anyone would like me to blog about, now would be a great time to chime in.    

As expected and predicted, I was not able to jump back into HBO's Game of Thrones this week.  Based on the feedback I've received on Facebook the threat of spoilers for future books is too great to ignore.  Some people have rationalized to me that maybe these aren't spoilers so maybe I can keep watching.  The key word here is "maybe."  Maybe isn't good enough, not for me when it comes to these books.  I need 100% certainty that I'm not getting spoiled.  And if I can't have that then I'm done with HBO's Game of Thrones until I read the next unpublished book from George R. R. Martin, The Winds of Winter.

So what does this mean?  Well for starters the first forty-eight hours after a new episode of Game of Thrones will consist of a social media blackout, because that is when the Internet will be most rife with spoilers.  Logging in to LJ to make a post is fine, because I'm not being exposed to the streams of new posts out there.  Those are what I have to watch out for.  In addition, I'll be unfollowing quite a few sites on Facebook following the social media blackout, because there is always the chance that one of these sites will put up an article about GoT at any given point.  The show is just that popular.  I'll keep recording each episode, and once I've read the next book, I'll waste no time diving back into the series.

And speaking of the next book, the most recent scuttlebutt I read online concerning the next book is that GRRM is hoping to have it done before the next season of the show.  Given this, along with the fact that I haven't read any of the books in several years and that I always want all the information at my fingertips when reading a new book in the series, when I'm done with my current reading material, I believe it's time to dive back into a reread of all the existing GoT materials.  It's the perfect way to combat whatever blues I may be feeling over having to put the show on ice.

In case you're wondering, I plan to do the reading a little differently this time.  There are five stories in this universe that take place before the books, and I plan to read those first, as this time I'd like to try reading everything in chronological order.  Also, when I reach A Feast for Crows, I plan to read it concurrently with A Dance with Dragons, reading a chapter in one before shifting to the other.  I realize the one-for-one approach won't be exact, but being as these books basically take place at the same time I'd like to see what it's like if I read the books in the same manner.  Perhaps it will reveal some new nuggets.

Anyway, thanks again to everyone who has read and commented on these writeups over the last four and a half years.  I leave you with one final discussion point about the show: I've made my feelings well known about whether I'll keep watching the show.  I asked people the same question on Facebook and received answers on both sides of the fence.  So if you care to chime in, lemme know where you stand on this now that we're entering (or least seriously risking) Spoiler Country.

Welcome to what in all likelihood will be my final writeup on HBO's Game of Thrones. I'm about 90% sure we've reached the point where I'm going to need to stop watching due to fear of spoilers in the unpublished books.  As I've been doing since this season started, I didn't watch the episodes when it aired.  Instead, I recorded it on my trusty DVR and then checked in with Facebook about whether I must beware of spoilers.  Going into this week, my concern was that I'd have to stop watching because of Sansa's scenes, or possibly Arya.  As it turns out, it looks I'm stopping due to Daenerys's storyline.  Someone informed me on Facebook that come the end of the episode, someone suffers a grievous injury that may or may not be fatal.  So after thinking about it a little bit, I decided I would just have to watch and decide for myself about whether I'm intererested in future episodes.  But I couldn't even finish the episode.  I made it all the way to when Barristan Selmy arrives on the scene after Grey Worm has been injured.  And just as he started fighting with the Sons of the Harpy, I hit pause and asked myself, "Do I really want to know what happens next without having read the next book?"  And the answer was a resounding no.  I still stared at the screen another ten or fifteen minutes afterward, making certain of this, hoping there was some way I could change my mind.  But there wasn't.  I'm done.  I don't want to know if the injury suffered was Grey Worm's wound, or if something worse happens to him, or if something happens to Barristan Selmy.  I don't want this sort of information in my head going into the next book, with the knowledge that something very similar may happen to one of these characters, or another character in this situation (since HBO does like to mix and match every so often).  Let me say that again: I DON'T WANT TO KNOW.  I'm happy to discuss everything that happened in this episode up to that point.  After that, I'm out.

The only way I can see myself changing my mind is if it turns out that next week the plot settles down and it's back to following the story as it unfolds in ADWD.  But that doesn't seem to be happening at all.  There are no armies marching on Mereen, there is no Victarrion, no maester sailing from Oldtown, and as of now there is no Quentyn or Aegon.  All we have is Tyrion and Jorah Mormont on their way to Mereen while violence erupts in the city.  And the fact that there is no threat from the outside leaves me wondering just how far ahead they've skipped ahead in Dany's story.  So unless Facebook tells me next week, "It's back to the usual plot, this was nothing more than a minor hiccough" I am so out.

So with that said, let's move onto the episode itself, or at least the parts that I watched.  This was the last of the leaked episodes, so going forward everyone else will be on equal footing (but probably not me).  As always, spoiler warnings are in place for all officially released materials.

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Well I managed to squeeze out another episode this season before I have to stop watching due to spoilers for future books, but as is the case every week now I'm no longer certain how much longer I can stick with the show.  As always, spoiler warnings remain effect for all officially released materials for the books and the show, and once again, if you watched the first four episodes that were leaked before the season, this is not the place to discuss anything you've seen in episode.  Failure to comply will get you banned from all my social media.  OK, so let's jump in.

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Another week and I'm happy to say I got to watch another episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, though I can almost feel the clock winding down, forcing me to stop watching due to spoilers for the unpublished books.  As with last week's episode, I had to do some mental gymnastics following the end of the episode as I tried to decide whether I could keep watching.  And I can ...hopefully.  And with that, let's move on to discussing this week's episode.  As always, spoiler warnings are in full effect for all officially published, released, or broadcast materials in the GoT universe.  In other words, this is still not the place to discuss episodes three and four of the new season if you happened to hunt them down online after they were leaked.  I will provide a reminder that failure to follow this simple rule will result in a ban on all my personal social media.  OK, let's get to it.

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I am once again a guest geek on this week's episode of Wired.com's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, hosted by David Barr Kirtley. This week's topic is Game of Thrones spoilers.  You can listen here.

So as I've already said, we're taking things from episode to episode this season.  I'll be recording each episode but not watching it as it airs.  Afterward I'll be checking in on Facebook to learn whether there are spoilers for future books.  If the answer is yes or maybe then I stop watching until I read the next book.

But I'm happy to say that we made it through this week's episode, so I'll be delivering you another writeup.  I should add that my knowledge of A Song of Ice and Fire will be put to the test a little bit more this year than in previous years.  Yes, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons are the most recent books, but they're also the ones I've read the fewest times.  I've read the first three books four times each--they're fairly imprinted onto my soul at this point (though I do continue to pick out new details with each successive reread).  I've "only" read AFFC three times, and ADWD twice.  Do I know the general layout of the stories?  Yes.  Do I have that same encyclopedic knowledge as I do for the first three books?  Not quite, especially not with the most recent book.  These books are dense enough that they really require multiple rereads to really get a full handle on everything that's going on.  This said, I still know the books fairly well and can definitely continue providing more insights than your average fan.  So let's jump in, and enjoy the ride this season for as long as it lasts (because I'll be shocked if I don't have to stop watching at some point this season).  As always, if you're not up to date on all the GoT episodes and reading materials (including sample chapters for the next book), the usual spoiler warnings apply.  Also, as some of you may have heard, multiple episodes to the latest season were recently leaked online.  I have a personal friend who has confirmed to me that he's seen the first four episodes.  Let me be perfectly clear here: if you've managed to track these episodes down online, great.  But this is NOT the place to discuss them in any shape or form.  I don't care if they contain spoilers to future books or not.  Let's keep this an even playing field for everyone, and only focus on materials that have been officially released to the reading and viewing public.  Breaking of this sacred rule shall earn you a lifetime ban on all my personal social media accounts (I'm not fucking around here--don't test me!)

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Game of Thrones: The Plan for Season Five

  • Apr. 6th, 2015 at 5:40 PM

So over the years I've accrued what I would deem a small but loyal following concerning my writeups for each new episode of HBO's Game of Thrones.  There were some years where I worried I might too busy to do said writeups, but I always found a way to make time for them.

This year poses a new obstacle (in addition to the potential time constraints).  I'm what you might call a GoT purist.  I've been reading the books since they first came out in 1996.  I have a first edition hardcover, signed by the Great George himself.  I've read the entire series several times over.  Yes, I am hardcore.  This doesn't prevent from enjoying the HBO series, even when they deviate from the books, so long as it's warranted.  When they stray in a different direction and it still work, I am fine with heaping on the praise.  When these new choices are weaker than the original story and/or poorly conceived, I do not hesitate to shred them.  But I always look forward to and watch each episode (twice over).

But in all things, it has always been books first.  That is the true source material.  That is what I care about above all else when it comes to this world, this story, and these characters.  I said as much on George's blog when he got sucked into a conversation about this, and The Wall Street Journal actually quoted me.  And as everyone and their mother knows by now, the HBO series is quickly catching up to the books.  And while in some instances they'll be taking the story in new directions, in other instances they'll be revealing things that happen in the books before I get the chance to read them.  And then there is third part of this equation, where things will be happening and I won't know if they're from the books or not. Honestly, that could drive me a little batty.

For me, it's vitally important that I read what happens before I see it.  There have been a couple of instances already where HBO has been playing with fire.  First, there was the Other King changing the human baby into an Other.  I have no idea if that is something unique to HBO or a bombshell waiting to happen later on in the books.  But being as the (potential) damage was already done, I chose to keep watching.  Then there was the death of Jojen Reed.  This would've been enough to make me stop watching, except I was 100% he was going to die based on all the hints George dropped in the books.  And being as he's still alive in the books where they killed him in the HBO series, it's not as if any important details have been ruined for me concerning the manner of his death.  He could even still have an important role to play in the books, so I'm really all right with this one.

But it was kind of the last straw, because I knew I'd just dodged a major bullet.  And by the Seven, I won't let the show dictate the story to me.  So where does that leave me and these reviews?  It's quite simply really.  When Game of Thrones premieres this Sunday @ 9:00, I won't be watching it.  But I will be recording it.  And at 10:00 p.m. I will log into Facebook and ask if I must beware of spoilers.  If the answer is no, I'll happily watch the episode and you'll get your review.  If the answer is yes, then I'll be pulling the plug on these reviews (and taking certain steps to guard against spoilers that I'll get into a later date).  If the answer is maybe there are spoilers/I can't tell/etc., I'm afraid I'm not willing to take that risk, so once again the plug will be pulled on further reviews.
I fully expect that at some point this season I'll have to stop watching the HBO series while I wait for the next book.  I have read all the sample chapters to the next book that George has posted on his website, so perhaps that will buy me a little time.  And even after I stop watching I intend to record every episode, so that once I've read the next book I can immediately get caught up on the HBO series.  A recent post from the Great George also provided a subtle suggestion that the finish line to The Winds of Winter is in sight (you have to read between the lines, but it's there), so hopefully I won't have to deprive myself too long when it comes to the HBO series, though I might easly find myself back in the same boat come season six if the next book comes out before then.  But that is a concern for next year.  In the meantime, I will ride the HBO series and keep providing you my reviews for as long as I can.  But once it's over, it's OVER.  I'm waiting for the real winter.  

World Fantasy Convention: Roommate Needed

  • Mar. 3rd, 2015 at 6:53 PM

UPDATE: Roommate acquired!

So I'm going to the World Fantasy Convention this November, which will be my first convention in a couple of years.  I'm pretty stoked, especially since WFC has always been my favorite con.  While it's close enough to drive up there and spare me the cost of a plane ticket, having your own room can still be a bit pricey.  So I'm searching for a potential roommate.  If anyone is interested, please message me at dougcohen2@gmail.com.  

Oz Reimagined: Promotional Deal

  • Feb. 11th, 2015 at 10:45 AM

Amazon.com is running a new promotion, and Oz Reimagined is part of it.  Until March 11th, you can purchase a Kindle edition of the Oz Reimagined anthology for just $1.99.


Douglas Cohen

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