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Last week, Damien Walter wrote an article for the Guardian in which he discusses serial novels in genre fiction, particularly Fantasy. He pointed to Sci-Fi author Eric Flint and a recent essay where he coined the term ‘mega-novel’ to better describe Fantasy series such as A Song Of Ice And Fire, otherwise known as Game of Thrones to the mainstream public, where multiple books of huge size are serialised and must be read together to make sense. Walter was arguing that the mega-novel is over-saturating the Fantasy market. Author John Gwynne has received a six-figure deal for the next three books…

Bangor International Poetry Season: Give Poetry a Chance! By Jack H. Upton This October, Bangor hosted possibly one of the biggest literary appreciation events in the UK of 2014; an entire month dedicated to Poetry. I’m sure most of you approach this subject with a pinch of salt – I personally have never been excited by poetry – and for the poetry lovers out there, I’m sure most of you did not know what to expect from Poetry Month. However, the sheer breadth of Bangor Poetry Season perhaps gave me hope for the Poetic Arts, after all. The turnout was…

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is fantastic for fans of The Hunger Games. Don’t be put off by its “Young Adult” status it is a great read for adults as well as teenagers. It is set in a dystopia called “The Glade.” Its residents, the Gladers, are all teenaged boys, all of whom have had their memory wiped and all they can remember about themselves is their first name. This is true for protagonist Thomas. The Glade, which resides in the middle of a gigantic maze, appears to be their only means of escape and is guarded by half-robot-half-creature…

As it’s sunny in New York at this time of year, members of the four year old Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society have been stripping off everywhere they can; the group want to celebrate good books and sunny days and enjoy both as long as the law lets them. It’s not clear what connects reading and being topless but these women are evidently having a lot of fun proving there is one. Founder A. Andrews said that, ‘four summers ago, my best friend and I were talking about the law in New York that says women are free…

As Malawian writer and human rights activist Jack Mapanje shuffled to the front of Main arts Lecture theatre to read from his body of work on March 10th, I was struck by his age and frailty.  Such thoughts were swept away when he began to speak, his strong and imposing voice barely needing the microphone attached to his front. It is not just Mapanje’s voice that is imposing. During Bangor lecturer Kachi Ozumba’s introduction, I was awed by Mapanje’s achievements and life experiences. Not only is an accomplished poet and writer – having published 5 poetry collections and a memoir…

I first read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ when I was sixteen and it has since been one of my favourite books, with Margaret Attwood as one of my favourite authors. I would even go as far as to say that this book set my foundations in feminism and made me truly interested in the world of women in both fiction and reality. The novel is set in a dystopian future in a place called Republic of Gilead, otherwise known as the USA and is centred around the handmaid, Offred. In this world there are alarmingly low reproduction rates due to a…

Award-winning novelist Joanna Trollope has created a storm in the literary world by stating that children are getting little moral guidance from fantasy novels and should instead read only classic novels. Trollope stated in The Sunday Times that she wanted to see nineteenth century authors like Jane Austen and George Eliot being taught in the classroom; that we should get books that would give children a stronger sense of guidance back on bestseller lists. Reading Science Fiction and Fantasy novels like The Hunger Games and Twilight means that children are “missing out on an enormous amount,” according to Trollope. “Although…

In conjunction with our theme of “Rewrites and Adaptations”, my Book of the Month for October is C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. The novel is an adaptation of the tale of Cupid and Psyche from Metamorphosis. In the original, Psyche is the youngest and most beautiful daughter of a mortal King. Her beauty and kindness enamours the people who quickly begin to worship her; much to the anger of the Goddess of Love, Venus. As punishment Venus bids her son Cupid to shoot Psyche with one of his arrows making her fall in love with a monster. Instead, when he first…

WILL WE BE BEWITCHED, BODY AND SOUL? by Nicola Hoban Book lovers around the world are preparing themselves as a much-loved classical series is being taken and transformed from its nineteenth century form into the prose of the twenty-first century. The Austen Project set out to pair six contemporary authors with the six Jane Austen novels: Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. The aim of each novelist is to take their assigned tale and, following the basis of the plot, put a new spin on it and make it unique in a modern…

The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in JK Rowling’s new detective series, was itself the centre of a mystery. Released to positive reviews under the pen-name of Robert Galbraith, the book’s real author was revealed by a Twitter user who then deleted their account. A forensic linguist analysed the text to prove the claim. The tweeter, later revealed to be a friend of Rowling’s solicitor, created hype that caused sales of the book to soar by over 500,000%. Bookstores unprepared to deal with demand were left without stock for days. The book became a number one best seller immediately. But…

This coming October 27th, 2013 would have been Dylan Thomas’ 99th birthday, or as the very man himself would call it, his “99th year to Heaven”. Born in Swansea, Glamorgan and a pupil of the local grammar school where his father was the headmaster, Thomas was a contributor and later editor of the school newspaper. He carried his wordsmith abilities over the threshold into the adult world: he left school at the age of 16 to work for the South Wales Daily Post. His poem Before I knocked is about a child in utero and is not the only Thomas…

Will Self: Kafka’s biggest fan. You may know Will Self as a Grumpy Old Man, a BBC panellist, a writer, journalist or as a critic. He is the author of nine novels including ‘The Book of Dave’, centred around an unwell taxi driver and seven short story collections, notably ‘Grey Area’. Self is also quite possibly the biggest ever fan of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and BBC Space is currently feeding his insatiable appetite for the Prague writer. The programme ‘Will Self’s Prague Journey’ is currently available on the BBC Space website, and it follows Self as he traces Kafka’s footsteps…

In September 2013, United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey will enter a second term of Laureateship. On 19th June, 2013, Seren’s Culture Editor went to see her address a mainly American audience at London’s Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. Composers start with chords and songwriters with an idea. In her poetry construction, Natasha Trethewey starts with a point in history and with “an historic al question that I will then attempt to answer through my poems.” Trethewey explains that she chooses to answer her self-set historical questions in order to “make peace with our own personal past and our country’s…

Wystan Hugh Auden was a northern English poet born in 1907.Though he was born English he later became an American citizen. Amusingly, this is the direct mirror image of a contemporary, ‘British’ poet also known by his first two initials: T.S. Eliot was conversely born American and later gained British citizenship. Auden led something of a nomadic existence. Born in York (pictured), he spent a childhood in Birmingham between terms of boarding education in Surrey.  He spent his adulthood in America and died on mainland Europe, in Vienna. As a poet and thinker, he wrote of and was plagued by…

Teesside novelist Pat Barker (a female ‘Pat’) is perhaps best known for her Regeneration Trilogy, which is set in the First World War and follows the lives of men deeply affected by shellshock. For a reader who follows Barker, her first novel, Union Street, can be regarded as an overture to this author’s strong ability to write in a mesmerisingly addictive style to achieve graphic and horrific accounts of real events. Union Street is, like Regeneration, firmly rooted in historical events. The novel set in the North East (and in an unspecified town, possibly in Durham or York) at the…

When autumn arrives, the crunchy red leaves underfoot sombrely remind me it will not be long until I have a red poppy displayed upon my person. Wilfred Owen is a key figure in World War One poetry. He is primarily associated with fighting on frontlines and writing cerebral poetry inspired thereby. But he also spent a lot of time in Edinburgh; he was treated for shellshock in Craiglockhart psychiatric hospital alongside Siegfried Sassoon, who was suffering the same condition. The novel Regeneration by Pat Barker is based upon this particular one of Owen’s life experiences and so too is the…