What to Read #2 – Pillars of Fantasy

Last time in What to Read I covered some of my favourite authors across Fantasy and Science Fiction. This time, after taking a brief, informal poll, I will write about some Fantasy. As always, these are merely my opinions about things and not meant to approach anything comprehensive or objective.

Pillars of the Genre
I was going to start off discussing children’s fantasy but quickly realized that deserves its own section, so we’ll instead start with the pillars of the genre. These are heavily weighted toward classic sword and sorcery fantasy, mostly to make this entry more wieldy, since the term ‘fantasy’ now encompasses an enormous raft of books that would otherwise be difficult to categorize. (Note: This means I’m leaving out some awesome stuff like Neil Gaiman and many others, but I’ll come back to them soon.)

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (1954-55) – JRR Tolkein
Obv. The writing might feel a bit archaic and wordy at times, but Tolkein deserves at least partial credit for basically founding modern fantasy writing (and probably Dungeons and Dragons as well). I’ll spare you the additional superfluous detail here and send you to the Wikipedia page if you want to know more.

The Wizard of Earthsea(1968) – Ursula K. LeGuin
To me, this series and the Belgariad represent the perfect transition from childhood fantasy stories to more adult stuff (LeGuin won a number of awards for the series, including the Newberry and the Nebula). It starts with the usual coming of age trope, but moves on to some interesting morality discussions. Earthsea is quirky and easy to read, but touches on topics with some depth to them.

I actually think some of LeGuin’s science fiction work is some of the best the genre has ever seen, but Earthsea is excellent and a timeless classic.

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MTG Worlds 2011 Plan of Action

A number of people have started discussing what they can do in order to make their voices heard regarding the recent decision by Wizards of the Coast to cancel Magic Worlds as we know it (among other things).

For those who may not fully understand the history of this, Worlds is a hugely important tournament for international Magic, and the most historic institution on the Pro Tour. The Regionals/Nationals/Worlds Pro Tour chain represents a tremendous dream for every Magic player in every part of the world. The decision to do away with this revered event after 2011 is extremely worrying. In fact, the decisions that Wizards of the Coast Organized Play (OP) have made recently seem to signal a move where five years from now we won’t have a Pro Tour unless we do something about it now.

I’m guessing that the Pro Tour players at Worlds will have some form of protest in store, but more importantly, what can those of us who care about Worlds, the Pro Tour, and the health of competitive Magic in general do to support them? We represent a much larger population of players and money than those who will be attending Worlds and showing that you disagree with the recent changes is at least as important as what those guys have to say.

I’m proposing two things, both of which coincide with the upcoming events in San Francisco:

1)      From Thursday Nov 17 until Sunday Nov 20, don’t log in to Magic Online. If you want to make your voice heard, hit Wizards of the Coast in the pocket book. Magic Online is the biggest cash cow they have and is central to every strategy they have for the game going forward. Assuming you are a regular player, your absence from that platform for four days WILL be noticed.

2)      Boycott your local Friday Night Magic on November 18. We keep hearing from OP that Friday Night Magic is more important than ever, so show solidarity with other players from around the world in not attending. The entire organized play system is tied together, but you need to show that decisions made that affect the Pro Tour are extremely important to FNM players as well.To clarify: You can still go and play EDH or a casual draft or what have you to continue to support your LGS (or even better, play board games like Puerto Rico/Agricola/Learn Ascension?), but just refuse to FNM that night. Explain to your friends why you are doing this and why it matters to you, and get them to join in.

I’ve seen a ton of outrage on the internet about this, and I am cheered that so many players have seen through the spin of the Press Releases to the real issues. However, to make sure that WotC truly understands how important these changes are, you need to take action.

Best of luck,
–CardGame
@mixedknuts on Twitter