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'science fiction'

Aug 06

Incoming Cryptids! by Cody Rasmussen

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on August 6, 2021 at 11:09 AM by Genesis Gaule

spooky woods at night with moon and mist

“I think the human mind isn’t comfortable with mysteries. We’re always looking for answers to the unexplained. And if an answer can’t come from facts, we’ll try to cobble one together from old stories.”
-- Max Brooks, Excerpt from Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

In the forests...the skies...below the depths. Strange creatures have always been in the tales of humankind since the beginning of time. Creatures of enormous proportions, creatures with claws and wings, some that move without the fear of man, and those who race towards us with fire in their eyes. Many so-called “cryptids” keep us all intrigued.

loch-ness

Below the depths we hear tales of fantastical creatures that bear resemblance to ancient water-dwelling creatures, such as the world-renowned Loch Ness Monster and the infamous Kraken

Others reside in the skies, predicting misfortune and terrifying the local populations such as the Jersey Devil, the Mothman, and the Snallygaster.

statue of a mothman

However it is the land-based cryptids that are often some of the most recognizable around the world. The Chupacabra, a bizarre land creature that is said to feast on the blood of it’s livestock victims. 

But in truth the most well-known land cryptid would have to be the large bipedal primate-like creature: Bigfoot. Going by various names, it is said to be located on almost every continent. From the Yeti in the Himalayas to the Yeren in China. The Yowie in Australia to the bizarre Mapinguari of Brazil, that is said to be a giant cyclops with a mouth on its abdomen. The cryptid known as Sasquatch has been immortalized in the video and camera footage that have been “caught” over the decades.

bigfoot

Legends from all over the world tell of creatures that are beyond the scope of humans, they are believed to be something that can only come out of the imagination. Yet it is because of this simple fact...that cryptids are still one of the most interesting subjects that we have to this day.

“The inclination to believe in the fantastic may strike some as a failure in logic, or gullibility, but it’s really a gift. A world that might have Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster is clearly superior to one that definitely does not.”
-- Chris Van Allsburg, Caldecott and National Book Award-winning children's author and illustrator

Jul 30

Titles and Covers by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2021 at 1:21 PM by Genesis Gaule

How important is the title and cover of a book? The title is first seen as part of the cover. How much does that cover influence the reader? Who makes the decision about how that will look. Is it the author or publisher?

Remember, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover? In the explanation of that English idiom, the word ‘alone’ is often added. So go ahead and take a good look at the cover and let that help decide if a deeper look will follow. It won’t be the only factor, but it does influence our choices.

That sounds so easy, but there is a huge amount of time, talent and thought that goes into a cover design. The author has lived inside the book for months, maybe years and knows the story inside and out and upside down. Publishers take a different approach by wanting a cover that will attract potential readers. An illustrator will add a creative talent that takes the words and puts flesh on them or creates an abstract concept of the story line. Publishers often win out though the more bestsellers an author creates, the more influence she’ll apply to the design.

Sometimes covers will change if books are reproduced. Publishers will want them to be more timely or if a movie has been produced then a still picture might be placed on the cover. Books considered classics may see many covers as different publishers take turns at reviving them, such as The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cookbooks with colorful covers of food catch my attention every time such as The Elder Scrolls by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. There are also books that I can’t take home because I find the covers too scary. 

Yes, I’m easily influenced by covers but what about titles?

Titles are influential also. Authors with their publishers will decide on a title. I have an author friend who agreed to change the title of her book when the publisher thought her choice wasn’t mysterious enough.

Too many titles are the same or so similar that readers get confused. I prefer titles that are more distinct like The Poppy War by R.F. Kuan (great cover) and Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitch Smith.

The individual words in a title can catch a reader’s attention. For me some favorites are tree, sand, herbs or seeds which is why I picked up The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. The cover is a picture of beading which is beautiful. The book is about seeds and plants. After picking it up and looking at it, I found that it takes place close to home--a good find for me based on a cover and title!


Jul 02

These Are a Few of My Favorite Tropes! by Vanesa Gomez

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 2, 2021 at 2:18 PM by Genesis Gaule

While some people might think of any use of tropes as something that hurts an author’s writing, they may be surprised to find that almost every story utilizes them. They can be incorporated into a story to set up a character type, be creatively used to complicate a journey, or just used for some feel good content. If you’ve ever been waiting for a love triangle to unfold, you will either want to pull your hair out in frustration or be at the edge of your seat in anticipation. Coffee shop settings with romantic tension are either your cup of joe or make you yawn. Essentially, everyone connects with and favors some tropes over others. Here are a few books that incorporate some of my favorite tropes.

Found Family:

One of my all time favorites is the “Found family/Chosen family” trope. In these stories, a group of misfits find a home in the company of others in the group. They learn to confide, trust, and protect each other on their journey to complete a mission. It's a great way to create character arcs in a work of literature, when a ton of exposition for a large ensemble may feel out of place or unnatural. Over time we can see more of a character’s personality and background come out when they encounter difficulties. It’s also a reminder to readers that your family is made up of people that care about you, not necessarily the family you were born into.

Some books that incorporate this trope well are:

The House in the Cerulean Sea

by TJ Klune

When a group of children in an orphanage have the power to destroy the world, it’s up to Linus to investigate how dangerous they really are. Along the way, he may have to choose between saving his newfound family, or the world.
Science Fiction KLUNE

Six of Crows

by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.
Junior BARDUGO

Artemis Fowl Series

by Eoin Colfer

(Slow build over the entire 8 book series) Artemis is a young boy genius with a mantra to guide him through life: “Gold is Power”. When this leads to elaborate and risky schemes to maintain his family’s wealth, those he once considered enemies will turn out to be more than he ever expected.
Junior COLFER

The Hobbit

by J.R.R Tolkien

A homebody Hobbit is reluctantly swept up into an epic journey by a wizard and thirteen dwarves.
Science Fiction TOLKIENebook

Enemies to Lovers:

When it comes to romance, “enemies to lovers” books are particularly fun to read. In these stories, people who see the worst in the other person grow to find themselves lost without them. Snarky humor and heartfelt moments of character growth? What more can you ask for!

Red,White and Royal Blue

by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Claremont-Diaz--America's Goldenboy First Son--has a beef with Prince Henry across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of state devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined... and could possibly upend two nations.
Fiction MCQUISTON

The Unhoneymooners

by Christina Lauren

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. When her eternally lucky tiwn sister Ami gets married, Olive, is forced to spend it with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Fiction MCQUISTONebook

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

At the end of eighteenth-century England, spirited Elizabeth Bennet copes with the suit of the snobbish Mr. Darcy while trying to sort out the romantic entanglements of two of her sisters, sweet and beautiful Jane and scatterbrained Lydia.
AUSTENebook

If you are curious to find out more about the patterns found in media, try looking up a book on Tropedia. You may find yourself surprised by the list of tropes a single novel contains, and even more surprised to see if there is a trend connecting all your favorite books.