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March 14

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  1. In a world where all novels were standalones...

    06 February 2019 - 04:26 PM

    So, the other day I had a talk with one of my colleagues, a guy who writes his PhD on fantasy literature. As you can imagine, big fan of the genre. Alas, not a fan of the Malazan series for...reasons. And that's kind of what we talked about (him not liking Malaz), when he brought up an interesting point. See, apparently much of what I argued had to do with the worldbuilding, the thoughtful way SE plans the plot progression over several novels, and the fantastic payoffs we eventually get as a result. My buddy countered this by arguing for treating each novel as its own self-contained plot. His question then was along the lines of "Do you actually feel that any single novel in series is strong enough on its to count as a potential favorite novel?"

    In the context of our argument at the time, I kind of dismissed it since it's really hypothetical. After all, nobody ever reads novel 7 in a 10 part series as a standalone (except maybe by accident). And thus nobody can authentically judge that.
    But then it got me thinking...So here's what I want to ask you guys: Do you believe that any single Malazan novel is so strong on its own that you would treat it as a general favorite of yours. And what I mean by "on its own", is that its that great without any nod to how it benefits from previous novels or how it lays the groundwork for things to come in later books. And, should you have that kind of appreciation, can you elaborate on what you cherish about said novel?

    Discuss :)
  2. Mysterious Bella Forrest

    19 May 2018 - 08:07 PM

    Hey guys,

    just recently an author has piqued my interest, and I'd like to share with you why that is. Her name is Bella Forrest, I think she's an American, and she writes Fantasy and Scifi novels for what I think is the "Young adult" demographic. Now, the fascinating thing about her works is not so much the stories she imagines, characters she writes or ideas she brings up - I freely admit that I haven't even read a single book of hers nor do I intend to.

    The first thing that is fascinating about her, is her claim to success. Bella Forrest's books have sold millions of copies and her collected novels boast more than 14.000 (!!) 5star reviews on and goodreads. Now this in itself is quite the achievement - but what really baffles me is that up until last Friday I had never heard of her. And I consider myself an avid reader of fantasy.
    Then again, she may be famous in the States - so kay, weird but possible.

    Alright, so instead of wondering why I'd never heard of her I started to go through some of the 14,000 reviews which her management constantly mentions in order to underline her greatness. And this promptly led me to the next surprise. You see, her most famous series/anthology is called "A Shade of Vampire"...and at the end of this month the 60th (!!!!) volume of the series will be released. Yes 60 volumes. addition to the fact that I've never heard of a bestseller author of the genre I love most, whose works have accumulated more than 14.000 reviews....I also somehow missed the publication of one of the longest running fantasy sagas of all time. I mean, geez, 60 volumes is more than Discworld, more than Feist's Riftwar Cycle, more than Salvatore's Dark Elf the top of my head the only longer series I can even think of has to be the Guin Saga.

    Up until this point, I feel like I could be the weird guy here. How could I miss a publication that spans 60 friggin novels? Bella Forrest pretty much has to have been a character of some renown for decades if she made it this far into a published series, right?
    ...Well this is where things get a bit crazy...

    You see, Bella Forrest, in one of her very, very few interviews openly stated that it took her several years to create and finalize the concept for the first novel of "A Shade of Vampire"...until she finally wrote the thing and published December of 2012. Yes, you heard (or rather: read) right. On May 31 2018, Forrest will have published a 60 volume series of novels... in what amounts to five and a half years. From what I've been able to glean, each novel of Shade of Vampire (henceforth: SoV) clocks in at around 300 to 500 pages. Even if I went with the very, very conversative estimate of 300 pages per novel this would mean that she has managed to write and pusblish more than 18.000 pages in 5,5 years. Just for comparison: The combined Malazan Universe including MBotF, FoD, FoL, and Ian's novels is less than 15.000 pages (by my estimates based on the English Tor books on

    What this also means is that on average Forrest has published 0,92 novels of SoV per month since the series' inception. That has to be somewhere between weird and crazy, but it gets better yet. Apparently Forrest still had some free time on the side and decided to spend writing some more stuff on the side. And by that I mean that since December 2012 she has also started (and in some cases finished) 9 other series which amount to a total of 34 novels in addition to her work on SoV.

    So this means that she has published 94 novels in 5,5 years. Many of them between 400 and 500 pages long - none shorter than around 280. It follows that over the last 5,5 years she has pusblished 1,44 books per month. Let's do a little math here. Just for fun. Let's say all of her books were just 300 pages each. Let's also assume every month of the year had 31 days, Forrest never takes a pause from writing, she's never sick, doesn't do holidays or weekends, never goes back to do a rewrite and everything she sends to her publisher gets accepted as it is. This would mean that on average she has to write 14 pages of publication-worthy fiction text per day continuously over a span of more than 5 years. Realistically (as if reality applies here anymore..) the number is significantly higher since the average page count of her novels is much higher, she pretty much has to do some editorial work, and it's probably(?) physically impossible to maintain this routine without occasional days off.

    Now, if you're the curious type, you may have realized that this average of 1,44 books per month (or 17,28 per year) is just the arithmetic mean. And, as all statisticians know, you have to ask yourself if that number is representative of what she's actually published every year (standard deviation and stuff). Short answer: It isn't. In 2012 she "only" published 3 novels. In 2013 and 2014 she published 9 and 8 novels respectively.
    In 2015, I think what happened is that she discovered her dormant superhero power, because she went into an unheard of publishing frenzy which left nothing but empty ink cartridges, ravaged coffee supplies, scorched earth...and when the dust settled she had published 42 novels. In 2016 she took it easy and only published 27 novels, last year was even more chill since she only published 20 novels in total. As for 2018, things look like they're gonna be in that 2016 range where we get a new Forrest novel every 2 weeks.

    So, long story short: Bella Forrest is fascinating. In merely half a decade she has published what would amount to a lifetime of creative work for some authors, and she shows no signs of slowing down. If she keeps being this proliferate, then by 2024 her SoV saga will have surpassed the Guin Saga in terms of sheer length. And the Guin Sage has been a (more or less) running series since 1979.
    Beyond that, she instills me with skepticism and doubt. She's very elusive - I can't find pictures of her, her website reads like a constantly updated onslaught of advertisements, no one seems to know her personally, and some people have pointed out that the coincidence of her first name being "Bella" and the word "Vampire" being featured in the title of her most famous series reeks of a cheap marketing trick to get her search engine hits from Twilight fans. She has also been accused of taking more than just a bit of inspiration from many successful Young Adult series (e.g. Twilight, the Divergent series, Hunger Games etc.). And more than one person thinks she commands an army of ghostwriters at this point.

    In any event - I've really wanted to share this bizarre little microcosm with all of you. What do you think about this whole story? Have any of your read something written by Bella Forrest and did you like it? What's it like?


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    14 Mar 2019 - 07:32
    Happy birthday dude
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