BFS Prism Column

Thought I’d reprint my Prism columns here (I do have permission…). Prism is the magazine of the British Fantasy Society. And if you’re interested in the society, why not join? Head over to and find out more.

Meanwhile, here’s my first colulmn. Wrote it in October last year. Enjoy.

Fantasy Musings – Prism Column, October 2006

On jealousy
It is traditional, when the fantasy genre is brought to wider public attention for authors to nod appreciatively and say how happy they are that author ‘x’ has helped to further the cause of the genre in general, we will all benefit and the world is clearly a happier place, blah, blah. Now come on, all of you, admit it. Beneath this veneer you are seething with jealousy when such a thing happens. Take the following:

‘Peter Jackson has optioned Naomi Novik’s Temeraire.’

Was I jealous when I read that? Is the Pope a German? My teeth ground together and my temperature rose. Good grief, I dream of this and here it is happening to someone else. Oh, the unfairness of this world. Wail and howl! Why has Jackson not called me to explain that The Raven must be brought to the big screen? Can he not see what must surely be in front of his face? Frankly, James, no he can’t, so stop your whining.

I congratulate Naomi Novik. She has conjured a superbly visual premise. But that doesn’t stop me having a few moments of insane jealousy. Personally, I didn’t get on with the writing style but I doubt she’ll lose any sleep over that. However, few of us could deny that, correctly rendered, Temeraire will be a feast for the eyes.

The point is, what do you do with such jealousy? Well, there are two routes. Get bitter and spout about how undeserving it is that lesser talents (for such will be the insinuation) have achieved mighty riches (for such is the root of the bitterness). Or get over it and give yourself a great kick up the backside. Use it. Someone else has hijacked one of your dreams but the happy thing is that dreams, and not just nightmares, can recur. Make it you next time.

Will it bring the fantasy genre to a wider audience as a result? Well, there is little evidence that The Lord Of The Rings did anything of the kind. I guess the encouraging thing is that film and TV makers are more and more accepting of fantasy. The scales may take a long time to tip but if the trend continues, an increase in interest is inevitable. Like prodding at a rock with your finger, eventually, you’ll make an indentation.

On David Gemmell
The undisputed master of heroic fantasy in the UK died on 28th July this year. The effect he had on fans was demonstrated in the outpouring of emotion and tribute seen, in particular, across the internet. For myself, there was personal sadness too. David was a good friend and a peerless mentor; a man I will miss very much in the years to come.

But, like the tribute we held at FantasyCon in September, melancholy is outlawed from this column (unless I never hear from Peter Jackson of course and then it is entirely justified). David believed in the great strengths of humans and their capacity to defeat evil and save good. He reflected those strengths in his novels as well as in everything that he said. These are what I will remember going forward… love, friendship, honour, courage, redemption. A world that exhibits these cannot be all bad.

He also told me once that while it was almost impossible to define ‘heroism’ so far as he was concerned, there was one thing he always bore in mind. And it was this: that when for all others, all hope is gone and despair and defeat are inevitable, for a hero, there is always something that can be done.

Wise words.

Until next time, do the best you can and be good to people. Nothing else really matters when you think about it.

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• January 5th, 2007 • Posted in News • Comments: 0