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FrogLog March 2024

Frog Newsletter March 2024

Greetings, all.

My month has been trending upwards, which is good. I started it with a series of medical and medicinal mishaps and ended it by mostly getting back to normal. I’m publishing videos, sending in drafts, and writing this newsletter.

Blogged

A personal note,” contains a picture of my cat and the promise that I’m catching up. You can never have enough cat photos. The promise has been fulfilled.

The tenth rule of magic,” was inspired by Brandon Sanderson’s famous “Rules of Magic.” Sanderson’s thesis is a great framework for problem solving in any kind of fiction. Examined honestly, a legal drama has as much a magic system as The Way of Kings. It’s just one we’re more familiar with.

The three laws of magic (plus a “zeroth law” addendum) are simple guides for writers, explaining what Sanderson thinks the audience will expect from fantasy. Unfortunately, some combination of our modern internet and hard-core lore wiki editors have taken the essay and run with it. The Laws have turned into prescriptions wielded against new fantasy worlds as quantifiable proof of their inconsistency. In an essay I read earlier this year, a writer had expanded the list to NINE rules of magic.

My post is a short rejoinder, books are not puzzles to be solved. They do not have to resemble what came before.

Read

I’ve been reading a lot this month. Hospital stays will do that to you.

I wrapped up Book of the New Sun, something I’d been meaning to do since last year. The series’ obsession with layered schemes and unreliable narrators atop some percentage of literary response and satire is a lot. I highly recommend Ranged Touch’s Shelved by Genre podcast, which features three immensely overqualified hosts. Their ability to connect Gene Wolfe to his time and conversation with other works was what finally got me through the series.

At the end of it all, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. There’s a lot happening. It is a book to be solved. The solution wasn't nearly as interesting as the puzzle had promised.

I’m also still chewing through The Night Circus. I adore it and have made slow progress over the last year. My great mistake was purchasing the highly recommended audio book. Jim Dale is fantastic, and his reading served my purpose on several long plane trips, but I’m too stubborn to buy the ebook as well. Given that I don’t normally listen to audiobooks, it’s taken me a while to get where I am.

I’m also working on The Three Body Problem, which I never quite took an interest in. It’s one of those books that get recommended by Azimov stans. The book turns out to be Sword Art Online. I should be comparing it to Ready Player One, but I think there's much more linage towards Asian cyberpunk there. Also I think Ready Player One is more uncomfortable than the famously uncomfortable Sword Art Online.

Round Up

Audible knelt before Brandon Sanderson, who had refused the audiobook goliath any mist-verse books until they reworked their payment structure for all authors. It’s good to see Sanderson using his power for the good of smaller writers (link).

Kara Swisher’s "Burn Book" press tour seems to betray her self-image as a Silicon Valley crusader (link). Be careful, someone on Etsy might be publishing your fan-fiction (link). Vogue took a wildly early swing at a 2024 year end list (link). And finally, LitHub validated the Frog Blog, writing that “For Book Recommendations, People Are Always better Than Algorithms" (link).

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