In the past two months I finished Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch epic fantasy tetralogy and then burned through his other, earlier epic fantasy tetralogy, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn for the third or fourth time.
Michael Whelan’s cover for Stone of Farewell, book two of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn fantasy series
What I dig about Williams, besides his excellent (albiet sometimes slow-paced) prose and efforts to re-upholster standard fantasy tropes, is his attempts to depict truly inhuman beings and cultures in his stories. Science fiction and fantasy authors have always grappled with these kinds of depictions. Some question if it’s even possible for us human beings, with our mental biases, to truly imagine the thoughts and cultures of some other type of intelligence. In this blog post, I’m going to discuss several attempts, how they succeed or fail, and how this relates to my own artistic practice. Be warned, this essay is long.
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