Support Your Local Jon Del Arroz

A few weeks ago, on the alternative social media site Gab (follow me), I happened to run into sf author Jon Del Arroz.

He is the author of the space opera Star Realms: Rescue Run and the new steampunk novel For Steam and Country. This second title is the first full-length novel from Superversive Press, according to John C. Wright.

Turns out he knows a little something about shoujo anime, so we bonded over our mutual love of Revolutionary Girl Utena and contempt for Cardcaptor Sakura, and I introduced him to Princess Tutu. He contacted me after a few episodes to tell me he was hooked. Seemed like a nice guy. Buy his books.

Del Arroz, however, is guilty of wrongthink. I’m not sure I have all the details, but Mike Glyer, the editor of the fanzine File 770, which has over fifty (!) Hugo award nominations, has apparently obsessed over him somewhat. Del Arroz does indeed seem to be featured on File 770 an awful lot for a guy with two novels. I’m gonna have to get tips from Del Arroz on self-promotion. Continue reading “Support Your Local Jon Del Arroz”

Senpai Noticed Me!

Kai Wai Cheah, author of the military dungeonpunk extravaganza No Gods, Only Daimons, who happens to be in my writers’ group, was kind enough to point out that deus ex magical girl has been featured on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House Blog, which is the official organ of an indie publishing house that has become an eclectic haven for talented authors who’ve run afoul of the sf genre’s current political climate.

Blogger Rawle Nyanzi, author of “The Teenage Girl’s Robot Army,” gives your humble host a glowing review:

The Deus Ex Magical Girl blog goes in depth with the series it analyzes, teasing out major themes in what appear to be saccharine children’s entertainment. For example, take a look at this review of Shugo Chara — it’s a thing of beauty and the very post that made me see that this blogger knew his stuff. However, that is not the only good content he has; he also does a masterful job pointing out major problems with another series called Cardcaptor Sakura — according to him, the show is popular with lolicons even though it has no sexualized content.

Not content to criticize from the sidelines, the blogger has also written a magical girl novel called Jake and the Dynamo, which can be read here as of this posting. I haven’t read past the first chapter since it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m sure someone else might like it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nyanzi has caught me at a bad time. I’m currently trying to acquire a master’s degree at twice the normal pace while simultaneously holding down a job, so my blogging endeavors (as well as my magical girl anime-watching) are temporarily stalled out.

However, I was toying with the idea of begging the Castalia House Blog to let me write a guest post, and it also crossed my mind to submit Jake and the Dynamo for possible publication. I had shied away from these ideas mostly because I assumed my particular interests would not appeal to Castalia House’s core demographic. As Mr. Nyanzi notes, he could only get through my first chapter.

Still, it might be worth a shot.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor the fallen soldiers who fought for our freedom.

Here at deus ex magical girl, we especially like to take the time to honor those pretty soldiers who fought for us against the monsters of the Negaverse and never asked for anything in return.

To that end, I draw your attention to the article, “Magical Girls and Their Historical Origins” by Rachael Lefler at Reel Rundown. The article includes a brief, clearly written rundown of the magical girl genre, but is most notable for its (decidedly strained) attempt to link magical girls to Japanese empress Himiko.

What if I told you, the first “magical girls” were the retinue of the first recorded Empress of Japan, Himiko? It’s true. Himiko was an elderly woman, who united a sizable kingdom in ancient Japan through political competence and charisma. She was the first head of Japan as recognized by Chinese historians, because she sent lavish gifts to the emperor of China. Himiko was reported to have maintained a large entourage of little girls around the age of 13, and they all practiced shamanism, very similar to those rituals practiced by Shinto shrine maidens today. [more …]

In any case, everyone have a good Memorial Day, and thank you for stopping by.

Walpurgisnacht

’Tis April 30th, and April 30th is the eve of the Feast of St. Walburga.

This is, naturally, the most important feast in the official magical girl calendar, since, even though Japan has its own witchcraft folklore, magical girls find their origins in a bowdlerized version of lore borrowed from the Occident. Walpurgisnacht lends its name to the final boss in the mold-breaking 2011 magical girl series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, as pictured above.

Today, therefore, is an appropriate day to watch anime, eat the stale candy corn still left over from Halloween, cosplay as a sailor scout, light a bonfire, stomp on Tokyo, or sell your soul to Azathoth so you can create wormholes to alien planets via the manipulation of non-Euclidean geometry. But do not call up that which you cannot put down.

According to legend, Walpurgisnacht is the night of a witch’s sabbath in the Harz Mountains. The day is celebrated in tongue-in-cheek fashion, similar to Halloween, in Germany, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, according to Lonely Planet.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has the hagiography of St. Walburga, a nun and sister of St. Boniface who lived from ca. 710 to 777. I am unclear as to how her holy day became attached to legends of witchcraft and devil-worship; as usual, internet sources on this subject are mucked up by current urban lore, which makes the old lore decidedly murky. Gothic Horror Stories, for example, tells us that Walpurgisnacht shares its date with the pagan holiday Beltane. This may be, though speculations on the matter are, I assume, about as accurate as the common falsehood (or, at least, unfounded speculation) that Halloween traditions are derived from Samhain, a Celtic holiday about which we in fact know next to nothing, since our only and scant information about it comes from Christian sources of the tenth century.

(On Halloween and Samhain, the History Channel delivers the usual unfounded claims. From the other side of the aisle, The Federalist makes equal and opposite errors. Skeptic actually does her homework and delivers an unusually well-balanced and well-researched essay.)

Anyway, whatever the real history might be, the lore is that Walpurgisnacht is a night of witchery, and this lore finds its way into horror stories and ultimately makes its way across the Pacific to appear in a reference, now almost entirely detached from its roots, in a magical girl cartoon.

Enter the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway and Get You Some Freebies

Robert Kroese, author of Aye, Robot, is giving away free books. These are books by authors who’ve been lambasted, harried, blocked, or banned by science fiction’s publishing gatekeepers for being insufficiently politically correct.

Kroese explains here. You get seven books just for entering, including Brian Niemeier’s Nethereal, which I’d been meaning to read for some time now. That’s one I got to watch from the ground floor as it went from being a self-published longshot to having its sequel win a Dragon Award.

There’s also a chance to win seven additional novels when you enter.

At the time of this writing, there are two days and five hours left to the giveaway, which you can enter here. Tell them the Deej sent you. In fact, use my link, which gives me more chances to win.

EDIT: I just realized I watched this Robert Kroese from the ground floor, too. He used to run the Mattress Police blog, and I remember when his first novel, Mercury Falls, was a work-in-progress. Cool. I have to admit I haven’t read his books (yet), but I do know he’s a really funny guy with a cutting sense of humor you don’t want to stand in front of. I once crossed wits with him and lost.

Hat tip to Carlos Carrasco.

BIG NEWS!

Featured image: “Mahou Shoujo” by zao2

Sorry I’ve been quiet lately, but I’ve got something to say:

My original plan was to publish Jake and the Dynamo in one big load when it’s finished, but I’ve realized that’s stupid, as the thing is going to be more than phonebook-sized by the time it’s finished.

So I’m going to break it up into a series. The first nineteen chapters cover one week of fifth grade and also cover the first round of monster fights. If you’re following the story, you’ve probably detected that it’s switching gears, and that it’s getting ready to crank up for a second round of monster fights and more inter-sororal magical squabbling.

Volume one of the series will cover that first arc. I’m just beginning to get the ball rolling for what will eventually be the publication, but I think I can say the published version will be revised and professionally edited, and will also contain bonus content. Stay tuned.

Signal Boost

Featured image: “Magical Girl Blanc” by Kakenokaze.

Jesse Lucas, a member of my writers’ group, has a blog where he posts regularly, The Jesse Lucas Saga. Check it out.

Jesse writes on a smattering of subjects, but he mostly discusses sf and anime from a Mormon perspective. He also produces free fiction. Recently, he’s been reading George MacDonald, and he explains why The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya really doesn’t need sequels (you’re too late, Jesse).

Art … and a Test

Featured image: “Magical Girl Melodie” by Rice-Lily.

According to the artist’s description under the image, Melodie uses stuffed toys as weapons. That’s an interesting idea, though she’d probably have to do it without that copyrighted image of Hello Kitty.

Also, the artist links to one of those silly online quiz things. This one tells you what kind of magical girl you are, so of course I had to take it.

Accordingly, I learned that my magical girl hair color is cream, my outfit is salaryman-themed, and my weapon is sarcasm.

I guess I wouldn’t make a very good magical girl.

Troy Tang on ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

Singaporean sf writer Troy Tang, who happens to be in my writers’ group, has a new blog, Thoughts with a Touch of Tang. If you’d like to get touched by Tang, I suggest you check it out.

Right now, he’s running a series on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2011’s groundbreaking and mold-busting magical girl series from Gen Urobuchi and Studio Shaft. His essay series is entitled, perspicaciously enough, “When You Wish Upon a Star: Hope and Despair in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” and there are presently two parts. In the first, he sets the series within the context of Urobuchi-sensei’s larger body of work. In the second, he uses Madoka to segue into a philosophical discussion of Søren Kierkegaard and the meaning of despair.

He also for some reason dislikes referring to Madoka by its title and instead gives it several nicknames. My favorite is Pouty Moulding Manchild Mistresses, though I would think that any sensible manchild would select his waifu from somewhere at least slightly less depressing. Mine is Duck from Princess Tutu, but that’s not the kind of thing I’d announce to strangers on the internet.

My own opinion of Madoka, to be honest, is that I’m sick of it. It’s an awesome series, unquestionably. It is easily one of the best magical girl shows ever made, and in some respects it is possibly the very best. But yeesh, it’s been five years, and as a result of Madoka‘s influence, the genre is still stuck in its emo phase. Let’s do something else now.