Witch Week 2018 is coming…

Ursula Le Guin

Fellow blogger and author Lizzie Ross and I are co-hosting Witch Week 2018. This is a yearly event, first aired on Lory Hess‘s Emerald City Book Review, named after the third book of the same name in Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series.

The week runs from 30th October to 6th November, so it includes two great holidays: Halloween AND Guy Fawkes’ Day. The first is now mostly associated with witches and spooky goings-on, of course, while the second, commemorating the uncovering of a plot to blow up Parliament and King James, is an excuse to celebrate with bonfires and fireworks in the UK.

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot.

This year, our theme is Feminism + Fantasy, so our read-along book will be Ursula K Le Guin‘s The Other Wind, the final book in the Earthsea series. You have plenty of time to get a copy and read it (perhaps the rest of the series as well) before 30 October. Then join the conversation as we discuss what happens when Le Guin throws a feminist dynamic into the fantastic world of Earthsea.

We’ll have guest bloggers, including this event’s originator and previous host, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, and other features to be finalised and announced as we get closer to the event. We do hope you’ll join in!

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23 thoughts on “Witch Week 2018 is coming…

    1. Hope so! Le Guin was a key figure who helped ensure that so-called ‘epic fantasy’ didn’t continue, post-Tolkien, largely male-dominated; she did the same for science fiction, establishing a different sensibility from what was conventionally associated with that genre.

      1. I’ve only so far read one of her books the Left Hand of Darkness, which to say the least gave me a lot of food for thought. Does one read the Earthsea books in order or do they work as standalones?

        1. The first three are related but can be read as standalones — though it’s best to read them sequentially. Tehanu and The Other Wind make a little more sense in context but I’d be interested to hear how you got on if you started with the latter for the readalong.

          The Left Hand of Darkness was my first Le Guin, and some month soon I must read it for the third time, and review it. The Dispossessed is also worth a read, and, after a suitable gap, a reread!

    1. Isn’t it glorious, and wasn’t she stunning! We’re so used to seeing photos of her in middle and ‘old’ age (what’s old but a number?) but it’s less usual to see her as she was when much younger. Mind you, she always was striking.

    2. By the way, back from our Sussex jaunt, seeing the haunts of the Aikens, the Bensons, the Jameses, Rumer Godden, Spike Milligan, Vita Sackville-West, Derek Jarman, Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf — now to switch a little reluctantly to UKLG… 😁

  1. Pingback: Witch Week is coming! – The Emerald City Book Review

  2. Pingback: October #Bookish Events – Girlxoxo.com

    1. A tricky question, depending on the nature of the dystopia, but on the whole I think the answer would be no.

      Why? Fantasy implies a realm—separate, contiguous or congruent with our own world—where matters not possible in nature are possible, such as to be called magic. Dystopia tend to involve a state of world where things are out of kilter, often as a result of mankind’s mismanagement, bringing on technological, social or natural chaos or devastation.

      If that disaster is caused by magic then it would indeed belong to the fantasy genre.

            1. Feminist fantasy is a big subject, with plenty of pitfalls for a mere male like me, so I can only hint at possibilities here.

              First, there are the fantasies that feature a proactive female protagonist, of which there are many these days, thank goodness. As just one among many can I suggest Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina (my review here: https://wp.me/p2oNj1-1ym).

              Then there are fantasies that take a distinctively feminist approach. A good example is Angela Carter’s famous collection of stories The Bloody Chamber (review here: https://wp.me/s2oNj1-bloody) which retells fairytales from a strong female perspective—no passive heroines these, in stories that mix gothic overtones with magic realism.

              If one wants to include fantasy in a bigger basket of related genres—what’s sometimes termed SFF or speculative fiction so as to de-emphasise the technological aspects of classic male-dominated science fiction—I’d recommend Ursula Le Guin’s fiction, typically The Left Hand of Darkness as an early example of what might now be called gender fluidity. I haven’t reviewed this yet but it’s a marvellous read in its own right.

              Witch Week 2018 will of course be exploring some aspects of Feminism and Fantasy, so do look out for a couple of posts advertising what’s to come!

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