Not so much 'this week' as 'over the last couple of weeks', I've been reading The Gift by Alison Croggon. It's the first part of 'The Pellinor Quartet' and I picked it up on recommendation after asking around for books that might be inspirational.
It's a story set in the fantasy country of Annar where Bards are magic-users that can speak to animals, cast enchantments, and learn other magics, as well as their traditional musical ability. Caught in slavery, Maerad is a young woman who comes into her power when she is discovered by a much older Bard, Cadvan. He takes her on a journey that leads to her instatement as a Bard and discovery that she may be the One foretold in prophecy.
Although I've really been enjoying the richness of the descriptive writing, and of the world described, I've found it a little too predicatable; while the world is undoubtedly wide, we're given the story only of 'The One foretold in the prophecy', and it's undeniable within the context of the story that Maerad is that one. I've not quite finished it yet, and I'd love to be proved wrong about the series, but I don't think I'll be picking up the second one. The Gift is available from Amazon.
From Wired.co.uk (which is secretly where I get a lot of my writing ideas) come one article this week. The first is a really awesome piece of news about a new type of engine. Over the last fifty years, lots of ideas have been posited about getting stuff into orbit - that's the expensive bit. Once it's there, it's relatively cheap to move around. There's an equation - the Tsiolkovsky equation - that details how much your fuel-to-mass ratio would need to be to move a certain amount of weight. It uses extremely hot photons from the sun to strip electrons from xenon gas, then converts the energy released into thrust. It's great for near-term science-fiction writing, because it's a real technology that still sounds suitably sci-fi, and if you're at all interested the Wired article is available here.
It's been a rough start to 2016 for celebrities, and not a great week all-round; I was at a family funeral myself on Thursday, and I got talking to my cousin about her theory on why so many celebrities have died this year. Turns out, the BBC has had the same idea; essentially, there is an historical cut-off point beyond which there weren't as many celebrities, and with the dawning of the TV age suddenly there was a boom in household names. Sadly, now that they're all starting to reach old age, we're likely to see a lot more before the year is out, and more each year going forward.
I'm a big Doctor Who fan, although recent series have slightly put me off as I really didn't get on with the companion, Clara Oswald. So surely the headline 'New Doctor Who Companion Revealed' counts as reading material? And if it doesn't, it's still awesome news. Pearl Mackie is playing the new companion, whose name is Bill. The longer the trailer went on, the more Susan and I got to like her. Go check it out, it's great!
Lastly, these eighteen tweets about bees. They're not all brilliant, but those that are had us giggling like idiots!
Have a good week!