Monthly Archives: March 2021

Ep061 Fantasy Magazine Issue 63

Fantasy Magazine Issue 63

Fantasy Magazine ran regularly from 2005 to 2011, and sporadically from 2011 to 2020. Now Fantasy Magazine has returned as of November 2020 under the editors of Arley Sorg and Christie Yant. Fantasy Magazine is a monthly publication featuring short fiction, flash fiction, poetry, and non fiction interviews and essays. In this episode Isaac and Reid discuss the works specifically found in Issue 63, January 2021.

Discussed this Episode

  • The Billionaire Shapeshifters’ Ex-Wives Club by Marissa Lingen
    • The comedy and joy of absurdity in a story.
    • How a collection of short-standup-comedy-like scenes can be presented as a setup of jokes; and how a brunch setting allows for these collections of shorts within a short story.
    • How the fantastical elements are exaggerated from metaphor to reality so as to convey the comedy and humor.
  • Incense by Megan Chee
    • Discussion of the fairness of cost, and how the storyteller turns from an entertainment to horror. How this horror is a dramatic turn that is not specifically expected.
    • How the story is conveyed in a short, concise set of scenes.
  • 10 Steps to a Whole New You by Tonya Liburd
    • How a story can be structured in a different kind of way, in this case in a self-help type of perspective.
    • The usage of Code-Switching in a fantasy environment. Learn more about Code-Switching on Wikipedia, NPR, and the Harvard Business Review.
    • The general theme of how humans often want, and how this want, once received, is usually not exactly what we want. And how this theme or statement is shown.
  • Quick Discussions of the other works
    • Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind by C.E. McGill
    • Butterfly-Hummingbird by Magaly Garcia
    • like the gator loves the snake by Maria Zoccola

Upcoming Episodes

Other Works Mentioned


The Next Chapter Ep002 Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Episode 2 of our first Next Chapter arc we dive into the middle book of the original Red Rising Trilogy: Golden Son by Pierce Brown. The story continues Darrow’s story as he embarks in his ambitious goal of overthrowing the oppressive Gold rulers.

Episode Discussion:

  • Tone and the reign of the Golds. Through this book we get several different perspectives (Nero, Octavia, Karnus) of what the goal of Gold is, and how pride and achievement in this momentary life is all that there is. How the Golds are conditioned to believe in power and rulership, and as the Golds manipulate the other colors they do not see that they have been manipulated to believe their own story.
  • Character discussion of Mustang (Virginia), Tactus, Roque, Victra; and how each of these character’s upbringings define who these characters grow up to become.
    • Mustang’s devotion to her family, and the lengths she will go to defend her family.
    • Tactus’s devotion to power, and his deprivation of a redemption arc.
    • Roque’s devotion to the Society lie. How he wants to be Darrow’s best friend, but will always choose the Society above
    • Victra’s devotion to breaking her family’s traditions of being the backstabbers; and how Victra seeks to be a decent person in a decent world.
  • Deep dive into the scene of Darrow’s identity reveal to Mustang.
    • How Mustang is characterized and “not being like other Golds.” Her Demokratic compassion. But she is also an established Gold, a child of the ArchGovernor, and if she acted upon her compassion she would lose a lot; so ultimately her decision is unknown. There is a mystery on in how she would act.
    • The setup of “should we shoot down her ship?”. How the stakes a built up. How if Darrow’s identity gets out, then it means the end of Darrow’s mission. How the story requires Mustang to be told.
    • Give both sides a voice: Ragnar and Sevro are on the side opposite Darrow.
    • Give Darrow, the main character, the ultimate choice: will he give the order to shoot down Mustang’s ship?



Ep060 Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

We went back in time to the works of Shakespeare and how Macbeth solidifies several traditions in speculative fiction. A story or witches, Macbeth follows the titular character as the theme of destiny vs freewill is battled by means of using the fantastical elements of prophecy. The story begins with Macbeth as he is told a prophecy of how he will one day become king. Upon telling his wife, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth conspire to kill the king and therefore become king. Then comes the dramatic final acts as Macbeth turns to

We Discuss

  • The accessibility of Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s plays were written for a 1600s audience and was meant to be consumed via a stage performance medium. There is a common understanding that Shakespeare’s plays and characters spanned the human condition and commentary on the human condition, but due to the fact of these plays being written for the stage and for a different time period of audience, it is very difficult to understand the work simply from the source material itself. Huge recommendation Looking for Richard by Al Pacino, a documentary that breaks down the key elements of Richard III and dissects how the elements of character, plot, and theme are relevant to a modern audience. In general, when you read Shakespeare, utilize the resources that are available to assist with understanding the depth of the stories. (Royal Shakespeare Society Eduction resources on Macbeth, No Fear Shakespeare)
  • Macbeth contains many tiny details that are easy to miss (and thus our recommendation of utilizing the internet to find these details), for example the cadence and structure of Lad Macbeth’s lines change as the play advances. Similarly, the witches speak in tuple-rhymes.
  • The Definition of a Witch. Macbeth depicts witches and introduces a “Chicken or Egg” debate over how much solidification and summary Shakespeare utilized vs creation. The image of a collection of witches around a cauldron perhaps was created by Shakespeare and now is quite prevalent in modern culture (Disney’s Hocus Pocus for example).
  • Witches and magic as a means of exaggerated storytelling. Speculative fiction utilizes fantastical elements to invoke scenarios where theme and character are at the forefront of the story. The witches tell Macbeth a prophecy of how Macbeth will become king. This kicks off a series of destiny vs freewill. Would Macbeth have become king without Lady Macbeth and Macbeth interfering? Would Macbeth have become king without the witches intervening? Did the witches cause Macduff to kill Macbeth? On one side Macbeth had his own ambition, but on the other side if there was that protection or confidence gained by the knowledge the witches gave… what influence did that have? Did Macbeth’s own flaws lead to his downfall?
  • The beat structure of a tragedy, and the dramatic reversal towards the negative. Within tragedy the main character often has a fatal flaw, that near the end of the story causes the main character to have a dramatic reversal towards the negative. Within Macbeth, it is Macbeth’s worry and concern that leads to Macbeth assassinating enemies that he did not actually need to assassinate. Typically we see tragedy structure in the middle books or movies in a multi-book or multi-series: for example Han Solo becoming frozen in The Empire Strikes Back; book 2 of the Red Rising Series (Golden Son); book 2 of The Hunger Games (Catching Fire).

Upcoming Episodes

  • 3/22/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • 3/29/21 – Episode 61, Read-through of Fantasy Magazine 63. (Read Ahead here)
  • 4/5/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • 4/12/21 – Episode 62, Short Stories of Usman T Malik (The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family – listen here, The Wandering City)

The Next Chapter Ep001 – Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Re-Release)

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Welcome to Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter! An occasional series discussing multi-book series in Science Fiction and Fantasy. This week we re-release our original Red Rising discussion in preparation for our discussions of book 2 (Golden Son) and book 3 (Morning Star).

Red Rising, the story of a red, the lowest of the low classes, as he impersonates a gold, the gods of the future, and seeks to overthrow the hierarchical society that has conquered the solar system. Isaac and Reid discuss how Darrow the red rises from his small mining community to take part in the fierce competition found at the academy, the training ground for the future rulers of this brutal society. Characterization, tone, and subtlety of storytelling all play a role in this fast paced space opera. Join us as we discuss one of our favorite books.

This episode breaks the story plot into four sections which we detail in detail as the plot and character increase in drama and tension.

Upcoming Episodes

  • 3/15/21 – Episode 60, Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • 3/22/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • 3/29/21 – Episode 61, Read-through of Fantasy Magazine 63. (Read Ahead here)
  • 4/5/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • 4/12/21 – Episode 62, Short Stories of Usman T Malik (The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family, The Wandering City)

Ep059 The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

In our final mini-series featuring Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy, Reid and Isaac discuss The Giver by Lois Lowry. The Giver follows Jonas, a young man who comes of age to take his role as “the receiver,” and as such learns the perfect world he has been living in comes at a cost and may not be as perfect as expected. The world of The Giver is one where structure and bureaucratic adherence is required, and Jonas slowly begins a small rebellion to save the life of a child and bring awareness to others in his society.

Discussed in this Episode

  • Structure of this dystopian novel: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Thesis portraying to the world building of the dystopian world. Antithesis presented as the memories Jonas receives, and the additional knowledge and emotion he is allowed to feel. Synthesis as conveyed as the conflict and choices Jonas makes to try to bring about change to the society–via running away and releasing the memories that he has received.
  • Conveying of emotion. Lowry is exceptional at conveying emotion, and two moments stood out. At about the 2/3 point there is a death scene where twins are presented and one is to be “released” and one is to go on and grow up in the society. At about the 1/2 point, the previous “receiver” requests to be released and the aftermath that The Giver feels as such.
  • Structure of conveying sadness and tragic realization (specifically the twins scene): Expectation vs reality and dramatic reversal. Early in the story we are introduced to the house of the elderly and what “release” is. Release is conveyed as a positive good. Then in the scene with the twins it is a sterile, cold, distant description of showing death. Use of words related to discarding. And when the twin is released there is little to no embellishment. The reader is left with a hollow feeling. This is also an example of an unfair injury where an innocent is bombarded with something horrible, and the infant, who has done nothing, is murdered for realistically no reason. Also mirrored in the death of the infant is the death of Jonas’s innocence.
  • The similar plot structures of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Giver. Each book contains a moment similar to what follows immediately after the death of the infant in The Giver, a beat where the protagonist tries to speak with others. In the Giver Jonas tries to have a serious conversation with his father, but his father does not understand. Jonas is left feeling defeated. In Brave New World the protagonist ends up inciting a riot, but is similarly defeated.
  • The sparse world building not only focuses the story and makes the world more digestible from a middle-grade perspective, but the sparse world building allows for a showing of the monochromatic world. In comparison The Bad Beginning described many different aspects of the world (such as descriptions of houses) whereas The Giver kept descriptions to a minimal (houses were described as just being houses).

Upcoming Episodes

Announcing Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter, an occasional sequel series dedicated to mutli-book collections of Science Fiction / Fantasy. Our first Next Chapter collection of books is the Red Rising (original) Series by Pierce Brown, where we will be diving into Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star. Episodes of The Next Chapter begin next week with a release of our review of Red Rising.

  • 3/8/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Re-Release)
  • 3/15/21 – Episode 60, Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • 3/22/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • 3/29/21 – Episode 61, Read-through of Fantasy Magazine 63. (Read Ahead here)
  • 4/5/21 – Leave it to the Prose – The Next Chapter: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • 4/12/21 – Episode 62, Short Stories of Usman T Malik (The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family, The Wandering City)

Middlegrade Re-Read Series