The Desert in Fantasy and Sci-Fi


Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
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Deserts (and desolate lands) have fascinated me since I was a kid; I’ve always felt myself drawn to them conceptually. But why? I can’t find a particular reason for this — I didn’t grow up in a desert; my ancestors don’t come from a culture strongly associated with one;  and I’ve never actually been to one. Even so, this inexplicable link with deserts feels natural. If I ever got to writing a fantasy novel, the story would most certainly commence in a desert.


Jakku (Abu Dhabi), Star Wars : The Force Awakens

By this point, deserts have intertwined with my imagination at its core, recurring again and again in both my every day interest — specifically, history and the Middle East — and, more importantly here, the fantasy I choose to read or watch.

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The Curse of Knowledge


Madeleine Cassier
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube


51sT1gF5PTL.jpgIn our most recent episode of The Book Table (TBT), we discussed Stormdancer, the first novel in the Lotus War trilogy by Australian writer, Jay Kristoff. Marketed as a Japanese-inspired steampunk series featuring what Patrick Rothfuss called “a strong female protagonist” in his blurb, it elicited some very different reactions amongst our discussion participants.

In our online book club, many people specifically picked upon Kristoff’s use of Japanese language and culture, calling it anything from “random” and “uneven” to “frustratingly wrong” and a little bit rage-inducing. The appropriation that formed the foundation of this book drove those familiar with Japanese culture and language to feelings of annoyance and irritation. A few members of our book club didn’t even finish Stormdancer, and a few more said they were unlikely to pick up the sequels.

For my part, I rated the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and said that, despite acknowledging problems, I enjoyed it. I made a point in the podcast of saying that I had read the entire trilogy back in April 2015 over the course of about a week, so many of the details of all three books often blurred together in my remembering. Though, probably most importantly, I also mentioned that Japanese history and culture are not my forte. My knowledge-base on that topic comes predominantly from media, so I shall never claim myself an expert…ever.

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New Episode of The Book Table!

Hello everyone!  The inaugural episode of our book discussion podcast, The Book Table, has been released!  In this episode, Shelly, Madeleine, Rebecca, and Akhi discussed An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

You can find it on:
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To find An Ember in the Ashes:

You can also find Sabaa Tahir through her Twitter, Facebook, or Website.

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