Tag Archives: diana wynne jones

Howl’s Moving Castle

6294.jpgYes I’ve only just discovered Diana Wynne Jones. Yes that’s very sad. Yes I understand you read them as a child. No, I’ve not yet seen the movie.

Moving on.

The book is a delight. I myself am the eldest of three (although there’s a brother in the middle – unlike Sophie I’m not burdened with two sisters) so I totally felt for Sophie and her lack of expectations, as the eldest of the family, as well as the burden of expectations. I also loved that Jones upsets fairytale expectations with the half-sister not being evil. And then I REALLY liked that after she is cursed and becomes old, Sophie takes complete advantage of the perks that age provides – being a crone provides lots of leeway, as Ursula Le Guin, amongst others, has discussed.  You get to honest and irritated and people have to put up with you!

Speaking of, I see similarities between Jones and Le Guin, in that both of them have a relatively sparse style. Jones doesn’t spend much time explaining the world, explaining what the magic system is and how it works and all the backstory of the characters etc etc. She just dumps you in the world that’s a bit familiar and a bit weird and expects that you’ll be fine. And you are, because the people – even when they’re a fire demon – are recognisable and sympathetic.

Meanwhile, there’s a castle trundling about the moors. That’s awesome.

This is a great fun book with a bit of adventure, a bit of amusing romance here and there that’s kind of gently skewered while also being treated gently, a few surprises, and a young woman mostly enjoying being a crotchety old woman. Plus, being in trade is completely natural and fine, dominating others is not ok, and pre-judging people can get you into trouble.

Don’t read this when you’re 36 unless you miss out when you’re 12. Read it when you’re 12 if you possibly can.


Galactic Suburbia!

In which Letters To Tiptree is still turning heads, and it’s winter in Australia. Much winter. So coldness. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.


World Fantasy Award finalists

Locus Awards winners


Alisa: Undisclosed – Vacated; 4 hideous romcoms (Remember Sunday, Thanks for Sharing, Life Happens and Something Borrowed)

Alex: Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones; Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress; Fifth Season, NK Jemisin; The Hollow Crown

Tansy: Person of Interest Season 5, Book Smugglers Quarterly Almanac (especially John Chu’s “How to Piss off a Failed Super-Soldier”), Batman v Superman; Hamilton, Rocket Talk podcast – Amal El-Mohtar on Does Hamilton Count as Genre.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 129

In which we explain the metaphorically violent nature of Australian politics, celebrate the return of Feminist Frequency and our faces are on the internet.
And I am late in posting this! Holidays will do that, when you don’t take a laptop camping… you can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia, anyway.

What’s New on the Internet

Malcolm Turnbull is not Tony Abbott: the Australian Spill Story
Our national sport
The onion thing, no we don’t get it either.

New Feminist Frequency Tropes v Women in Video Games – Women as Reward & Special DLC Mini Episode.

The Three Hoarsemen Podcast Episode 25 featuring Alisa

Galactic Suburbia on Books and Pieces

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Mad Max Fury Road; Undisclosed: The State vs Adnan Syed Podcast

Alex: Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut; Archer’s Goon, Diana Wynne Jones; I finished Stranger in a Strange Land!! Also Of Sorrow and Such, Angela Slatter

Tansy: Dawn, Octavia E. Butler; Bombshells #1, Marguerite Sauvage & Marguerite Bennett; The Cornell Collective; Supernatural

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Archer’s Goon

Unknown-1Yes, that Archer’s Goon.

I really do not understand how I missed Diana Wynne Jones as a child. It’s not like I was too old for her stuff when it was coming out. It’s not like there weren’t libraries in my town. There were even bookshops! … but there it is. I didn’t read my first Jones until a couple of years ago – a Chrestomanci – and I’ve been hearing about Archer’s Goon for ages. And now I’ve finally read it.

Yes, it is magnificent. Yes, I loved it. Yes, I will be foisting it onto every young person when I think they’re not quite ready for it.

If, like me, you haven’t read it – well, just do so. It’s about a family whose house gets gently invaded by a very large man with a very small head who insists that Dad has to write 2000 words, Or Else. And things go on from there with discovering that the town really does not run the way they thought it did. Which naturally leads to Adventures. And those adventures were genuinely absorbing and often unexpected and always wonderfully written.

So what did I really like?

Firstly, the family situation. The adventures centre on the son, Howard, but Mum and Dad are absolutely present and important and relevant. I love the family dynamics, actually; that Mum and Dad are so different, Dad is so magnificently obstinate and Mum is wonderfully competent; that they have a raging row which does not result in them considering divorce; that they complement one another and generally work together. And then there’s Awful. Seriously a family who nickname their daughter Awful and still go out of their way to make sure she’s ok – this family is so REAL. I love them.

I love the Goon. When people were talking about the book I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the title meant. Clearly goon can mean henchman, but it didn’t seem to fit here; then there’s the Aussie slang term for cheap wine, and that really didn’t seem to fit… so I was lost. Discovering that actually it did mean henchman was a surprise, but made sense once I realised that Archer was of course a person. Anyway, I liked the Goon a lot. Especially his dialogue.

And I liked the plot. I loved that Jones did not explain absolutely everything about Archer’s family and their place in the town; you just need to accept that this is what Howard and his family know, so of course it’s what the reader knows. We regularly deal with events that we don’t have complete context for, so why must it be different in a novel? Going around visiting the different members of the family to investigate what’s going on is of course a familiar trope; it reminded me of Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series (which of course is a series, not a stand-alone, something else which is a bit different in Jones), amongst others. There’s nothing wrong with using this trope, of course – it’s used so often because it does let the author show you stuff about the world and reveal the plot in bits and pieces. And Jones does it so well.

Finally, in looking around for a picture of the cover, I discovered that it was a TV show – which I vaguely remember someone talking about at some stage. Is it wrong that I immediately got the Round the Twist theme song in my head? (Roger Lloyd Pack as Dad is SHEER BRILLIANCE.)