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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Go BBC

There is historical fiction and there is fantasy fiction and I love them each separately. Rarely do the two meet in the sub-genre known as historical fantasy, but when they do it has the potential to create a synergy of awesomeness that surpasses even Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Of course, I am partial to historical fantasy because it is what I write. But when a book comes along that does it well, I am especially excited.

Now word hits the grapevine that one of those will be broadcast in 2015 as a production of BBC One (airing on BBC America for US audiences). After several false starts as a movie, Suzanne Clarke’s lovely debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, has been made into a series comprised of seven one-hour episodes.

Released in 2004, the novel received the kind of reviews and awards writers dream about, including:

  • Time #1 Book of the Year
  • Book Sense Book of the Year
  • People Top Ten Books of the Year
  • Winner of the Hugo Award
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year
  • Salon.com Top Ten of 2004
  • Winner of the World Fantasy Award
  • Nancy Pearl’s Top 12 Books of 2004
  • Washington Post Book World‘s Best of 2004
  • Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004
  • San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004
  • Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel
  • Chicago Tribune Best of 2004
  • Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004
  • Village Voice “Top Shelf”
  • Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004
  • Rocky Mountain News critics’ favorites of 2004

BBC has released a trailer that looks fantastic and I get a case of the vapors every time I watch it. Enjoy!

Colossal Natural Phenomena, a.k.a. The Gods Must Be Crazy

It seems only natural that early hominids, hunkered in their caves, should come up with the agency of gods and demons to explain such colossal natural phenomena as thunder, lightning, plague, earthquakes and volcanoes. Or such current or formerly unfathomable mysteries as epilepsy, spontaneous human combustion, or the oceanic red tides that can sweep beaches […]

Historical Fiction Survey

If you are a lover of historical fiction, I think you’ll enjoy this post from the blog, A Writer of History. It includes an interactive historical fiction survey that has a good participation rate in only its third year: Yes, I know some of you will think I’m crazy! However, the topic of reading is always on my mind […]

A Brief History of Earth Day

In recognition of the fact that yesterday was Earth Day, and today continues Earth Week, I thought I’d take a brief look at the celebration’s history. Not surprisingly, it started off with a connection to the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. The spring equinox is traditionally considered to be a time of re-birth, renewal, and […]

Obliviate! Damnatio memoriae in history

The Czech author Milan Kundera touchingly describes in one of his books a photograph of Joseph Stalin on a balcony waving to a crowd while all around him stand his most trusted deputies. The photo, used heavily by those responsible for disseminating propaganda, was taken during the early days of the Soviet Union when I […]

European Animal Trials

Not Jurisprudence’s Finest Nine Centuries Here’s a bit of strange fluff from the history bin: From as early as the year 824 through the mid-1700’s animals and even insects in Europe could be accused of crimes and tried in criminal and ecclesiastical courts. They might appear in the dock, accused of murder, theft, fraud, criminal […]

Ancient Shipwreck Holds Clues to the Past

Here are some excerpts from a fun post by my friend, fellow Arizonan and author of historical fiction, Judith Starkston. Sometimes disaster brings the best rewards. So it is with the Uluburun Bronze Age shipwreck off the coast of southern Turkey. While I’m sure the sailors who went down with the ship sometime around 1300 B.C.E. viewed the […]

Kallikantzaros: Goblins of Southeastern Europe

In the folklore of Southeastern Europe and Anatolia (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey), goblins are known as the kallikantzaros. They live underground and only come to the surface during nights of the Twelve Days of Christmas—December 25th through January 5th. Those days, which used to be known in Serbia as “the unbaptized days,” are a time […]

Lighting in Fiction: My Kingdom for a Pack of Matches

When writing historical fiction, something as simple as light can be a challenge. Your character needs it to see, your readers need it to receive visual setting, and a lit candle or torch may not be handy. Moonlight and starlight can do a lot, but sooner or later your character will likely need to create […]

Old Notes: My Daughter Talks Non Stop from the Back Seat

I recently came across these old notes I made almost 6 years ago while driving my youngest from one activity to another. She was five at the time and could talk a non-stop stream of consciousness from the back seat. I swear I took this down verbatim using one hand and without taking my eyes from […]