Vulcans vs Elves with Charlie N. Holmberg and Win a Book

Please join me in welcoming fellow author Charlie N. Holmberg to Preternatura. Charlie is dropping by today to celebrate the release of her book, The Paper Magician. The Paper Magician was published on September 1 by 47 North and is the first book in her The Paper Magician series.

Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. In addition to writing fantasy novels, she is also a freelance editor. She graduated from BYU, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and hopes to one day own a dog. She currently lives with her family in Idaho.You can learn more about Charlie by visiting her website, on Facebook and by following here on Twitter.

thepapermagician_coverABOUT THE PAPER MAGICIAN: Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic . . . forever. Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic. An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

And now, let’s hear from Charlie…

Why Vulcans Are Way Better Than Elves

I love to read fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, which is why I write in it. I eat up Sanderson and Marillier novels. At the library, I automatically peruse the books with the little white unicorn sticker on them.

I’m also a Trekkie.

Why do I bring this up? Because both fantasy novels and Star Trek have a race of people who look a whole lot like one another: Elves and Vulcans. However, as both a writer and a reader, I’m going to tell you why I love Vulcans and why I throw most books containing Elves across the room, if I pick them up at all.

Let’s start with Vulcans.

Vulcans appear, outwardly, just as humans do, save for their pointed earscharlie_holmberg and standard bowl-with-straight-bangs haircut (and the occasional blue eye shadow…). Vulcans thrive off logic: their desire to be logical at all times pushes them to learn, making them a highly intelligent race. This encourages them to deny all emotion, which is the bane of logic. They’re also about three times stronger than your average human.

Now, Elves.

Elves also look like humans, save for the pointed ears. Elves are graceful, beautiful, and immortal. In many novels or media outlets, they even have supernatural abilities. They’re fair to look upon, often war-free, and as Tolkien put it, have “great skill of body.” They’re tall, graceful, and resistant to disease.

This makes me loathe them.

Now, if you’re an Elf fan, that’s fine and dandy—we don’t all have to like the same things. But let me tell you why I root for Vulcans whilst heckling Elves.

I call it Superman Syndrome. (Which apparently is already a thing.)

Vulcans one-up us humans in that they tend to be way smarter than us and could seriously mutilate us in a fist-fight. These are their strengths. But they also have their weaknesses: they don’t fully understand what it means to feel. You rarely see a happy Vulcan because happiness is suppressed. So is sadness, anger, surprise, love. Can you imagine a world without love, where you’re assigned a spouse and only mate with them once every seven years when your body decides to release its entire libido at once? For this reason, I pity Vulcans. Logic is a strength, but any Trekkie knows the episodes where stuffing down feelings ends up hurting Vulcans, not helping them.

When we look at Elves’ strengths . . . well, it’s the whole list, isn’t it? AKA Superman Syndrome.

Superman is my least favorite superhero (I’m a Marvel girl myself) because he’s too strong. The guy is invincible, unless someone manages to get their hands on some psycho rock from another planet, though even kryptonite won’t kill him. I feel it’s the same with Elves. All Elves are gorgeous, all Elves are strong, all Elves are immortal and powerful and smart and limber and nothing else. They’re too perfect; even Tolkien is guilty of this. Where is their weakness? Yeah, you could stab one (when Haldir fell in the “The Two Towers” movie, my first reaction was, OMG THEY CAN DIE?), but you can stab a human, too. Mankind has no upper hand with Elves. We’re just walking meat in comparison, and that, to me, makes elves wildly unsympathetic.


I’m giving away a paperback copy of my book, The Paper Magician (which is both Elf- and Vulcan-free), to one random commenter. Here are today’s questions: Is there some sort of fantasy creature or element that immediately turns you off of a book? Or, if you’re an Elf-lover, why do you disagree with me?

Thanks, Charlie and congratulations on the release of The Paper Magician. If you would like to win a copy of The Paper Magician, leave a comment with your answers to Charlie’s questions.

23 thoughts on “Vulcans vs Elves with Charlie N. Holmberg and Win a Book

  1. First, your book looks fantastic!
    Second, I think I have to be a bit of an elf apologist because there’s no paranormal character that’s an automatic put-down for me. To me their perfection is what makes elves interesting. They can be an ideal the human characters either envy or strive for. Their perfection can also make them good villains, when their superiority takes them too far about human concerns. I hear what you’re saying – that characters are more fun when they have a little vulnerability – but part of me likes knowing there are creatures who operate on a higher level than my petty human concerns.

  2. I’ve been seeing your book pop up on goodreads for the past week and I immediately put it onto my “to-read” list.:-)

    Not many fantasy/paranormal races or aspects turn me off completely. Everybody has to put their own spin on something. I’ve read books where elves are wonderful and strong but are complete jerks and are lonely because all the humans they know keep dying. If the elf race is small and all of the humans in the world keep dying around me, I think it would be incredibly difficult to see your immortality and extensive skills as a blessing. As long as a race or character(s) has realistic and somewhat undermining flaws, I will read it.

  3. A lot depends on the writer. I read series by Moran Howell which featured Orcs & it was wonderful. Not the nasty guys in LOTR & The Hobbit at all

  4. Doesn’t Charlie’s book look awesome? I am a fan of elves, as anyone who’s read this blog very much is aware. The reason I like them is that the elf mythology is all over the place so they’re almost like a paranormal blank slate. They can be good, or evil, or–my personal favorite–morally ambiguous. The only “species” I come close to disliking straight out–I’m totally with Sullivan McPig on this one–is zombies. Zombies who eat brains and terrify people? Heck, yes. Zombies as a romantic interest. Oh no no no no. Ewwww.

    Note, however, that my definition of zombie is limited. I don’t consider Jean Lafitte a zombie, so there’s magically undead and then there’s….brain-eaters. 🙂

  5. The only creature that would make me dislike a fantasy book, even if its just slightly, would probably be giant spiders. (That spider scene in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was just…ugh, I’m glad I didn’t see it in 3D.)

  6. WOW!!! Charlie’s book look and sounds awesome! and I love her Vulvans vs. Elves debate 🙂 I still love both about equally while I can see points for both sides. I love zombies in books, just not movies… picturing them in my mind isn’t as gross as seeing them on the big screen… dunno why.. but that’s my quirk. I don’t think there’s really anything supernatural that turns me off a book… I’ll always try anything at least once… and for you gals who don’t like zombies… have you tried World War Z by Max Brooks? It was an amazing book waaaay before they made it into a good movie. Max Brooks treats it like a global disaster and the “story” is told in a journalistic flashback perspective. It’s not “gross” if that’s what you don’t like….

  7. hum i don’t see what creature could turn me off from a book oki werewolves that are mindless beast, savage and human eater without any intellect left those i hate but even then when i start a book i do finish them^^;;

    i quite like elves but it also depends on which one ( i mean i do dislike Rand a lot^^;;)

  8. Loved your discussion about Vulcans versus elves as I am a Trekkie myself!
    I can’t stand Zombies. They have to be the bad guys in a story. Your book looks great and it’s on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. I will happily embrace most fantasy creatures or elements. For me it depends upon how they are written & depicted. I guess I need the author to convince me.

  10. I just got a weird error message when I tried to post, so sorry if this ends up being a duplicate comment. I used to not read anything to do with zombies, but I’ve warmed up to them more in the last few years. Also, I happen to like elves, especially of the Terry Brooks variety.

  11. Congratulations on the publication of your new book! The Paper Magician sounds fascinating. Zombies turn me off completely, They are mindless gory creatures without a soul and I have no interest in reading about them.

  12. I don’t think my first comment posted so let’s try again. I used to hate zombies but my brother-in-law got me hooked on The Walking Dead so I kind of like them now. I don’t think there is a fantasy creature that if it was used in a book I would refuse to read the book. But if I don’t like how they are done I might not finish the book. For example I like werewolves when they are more wolf (Wolf’s Rain, Shiver) than mindless killing machine when they turn. As a LOTR fan since middle school I really like elves. But I found that towards the end of watching the movies and reading the books I liked the human characters a lot more (Aragorn, Faramir).

  13. I like the Lord of the Rings elves, but I don’t like the Hobbit (book) elves because they’re silly. I like my elves to be wise and…well, pretty. Orlando Bloom, anyone? I can’t think of a fantastic character that turns me off…except silly creatures that don’t serve a purpose.

  14. I agree that elves and other non-human races can easily be written as Superman Syndromes, but that’s the fault of the author more than the race! I say this as a Marillier super-fan 😀 The fae in her Sevenwaters series are a great example of “elves” done right. Especially the Heir of Sevenwaters featuring Clodah and Darragh!

    I admit to being suuuuuuuper burned out on vampires and werewolves due to market glut. I won’t pick up any new series with these races unless the plot summary promises to take things in a new/exciting direction (like steampunk! Or viral vampires! Or something!), or I’m already familiar with the author and trust them to do a good job and keep me interested (like Suzanne’s Penton series or Anne Bishop’s Others series).

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