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Honestly, it slightly irritates me how far we've not come in the years since Swordspoint. "Badass killer queer lady" has become a reliable trope for basically all (save Sanderson, who has his own hangups here) traditional epic/grimdark authors (who, were I being cynical, are mostly straight men writing for straight men) while male/male relationships are still in the bin of not-quite-fanfic that's just had the serial numbers scrubbed off, and an awful cover tacked on, in order to facilitate a self-pub on Amazon (and is, were I being cynical, mostly written by straight women for straight women).

Which isn't to say there aren't exceptions, or that authors can't/shouldn't write outside of their experience, or that readers shouldn't read for "those" reasons. Just that Swordspoint still stands out for depicting a fairly "just so" same-sex relationship between variously competent people that doesn't seem wholly designed to titillate the author and audience.

Aside: I first read Swordspoint because of a recommendation from Brent Weeks, during a chat on queer characters in fantasy that I accidentally incited, mentioning in a forum that I was a little let down he'd rather off-handedly and (I thought) needlessly fridged the one queer-coded character in his Night Angel trilogy. It wasn't really even a criticism and I didn't know he read the forum, but he sent a nice email, so I buy his books. I probably would anyway, since I think the Lightbringer series does Sanderson a little better than Sanderson--although the last book fell deep into the Robert Jordan "1000 pages that moves no plot nowhere" trap.

Another aside: I found an old, old copy of Three Hearts and Three Lions in a local used bookstore. Being a tabletop nerd, I've always been interested in this book, as it was cited in the famous Appendix N as a D&D influence. Not to mention, Anderson's got a good reputation. If I enjoy it, I'll make an effort to track down The Broken Sword as well.

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Swordspoint was lightyears ahead of its time, but you are absolutely right in pointing out how far we've failed to come since then. I remember when the book came out people like Ellen Datlow and myself were congratulating Ellen Kushner on a brilliant job and saying "This will change everything!" Yeah, right...

Three Hearts and Three Lions is the common taking a spin on ground first plowed by Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, something that's been done to death in modern fantasy, sometimes well, L. Sprague de Camp and Brian Daley, among others; often done horribly and I won't bother mentioning any names. Anderson does a good job of it, one of his most enjoyable works. 

The Broken Sword is one of those minor fantasy classics that everyone of my generation read twenty years after its initial publication due to it being reprinted in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in (I think) 1971. It is really early Anderson, and he doesn't have all his authorial ducks in a neat row, but it may well be a more enjoyable read because of that. I believe that he tinkered with a later edition and smoothed out some of the brutality. Check the copyright page, you want the original with full Viking bloodlust unleashed. It's a great little book that deserves to be  better-known than it is. Anderson's fantasies get lost among the amazing amount of good to great SF that he authored, one that's almost a blend of genres and a hell of a lot of fun is The High Crusade, aliens land, crusaders commandeer spaceship, hilarity ensues.

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The Spawn of A Connecticut Yankee:

Okay, blame the fact that there's nothing on tv that I care to watch now and Beech for bringing it up in the first place... The theme of modern person(s) winding up transported into the past is as old as, well, as old as the Mark Twain novel cited above.  I thought it might be fun to mention a few books on this theme that otherwise get overlooked:

Let's start with a couple that predate the Anderson novel, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, yeah, Sprague in his seventies and eighties was pretty bloody awful and having his wife collaborate wasn't much help. This is from the time he was a bright-eyed Naval engineer at the start of WWII. Our hero winds up in the latter days of the Roman Empire and tries his darndest to forestall the dark ages, well, we know how that went... Still, a fun book by an engineer with a sense of humor (yeah, a rare thing; I know!) Holds up pretty well today despite being written in (I think) 1941.

The Incomplete Enchanter - L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt: Yeah, Sprague again, and again with a novel published in Unknown (which for those who don't know was issue-per-issue the best fantasy magazine ever published); this time there's a different spin. Our man isn't just going into the past, he's going into classic worlds of literature such as The Faery Queene, the Kalevala, various Shakespearean settings, you get the idea... The central conceit is that these "fantasy" worlds are all quite real in neighboring dimensions. Fun stuff and even the latter-day volumes that de Camp did solo and the follow-up book by Christopher Stasheff are worth reading. Don't worry if you dozed off during the lecture on Edmund Spenser in English Lit., this will give you the Cliff's notes version and is a hell of a lot more entertaining.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant - Stephen R. Donaldson: What's that you say? Tired of bluff, hearty heroes who look the God of Death in the eye and say "Not today, you fucking cunt!" Have I got the series for you! Written at the end of the 1970s, the first trilogy introduced us to a weepy, whiney SOB, who also turns out to be a rapist. Pretty much every character in the book is a right bastard except the giant, Saltheart Foamfollower and considering how unlikable the protag is, you start to wonder "how bad can Lord Foul actually be, at least he's up front about being a dick." That said, the series is well-written, Steve Donaldson is a good dude and the books have become classics, and rightly so. 

The Doomfarers of Coramonde - Brian Daley: Who? What? "You're making shit up, aren't you?": No, not making a thing up and I'm about to turn y'all on to two of the best fantasy books that no one's ever heard of. "Waitaminnit... Brian Daley was the name of that Star Wars and Robotech dude..." Why, yes, yes he was. Daley will probably always be remembered for his work-for-hire stuff as "Jack McKinney"; this is akin to remembering Nakamura strictly for his WWE work. Why have you never heard of these books if they are that good? Well, due to all the legal shenanigans that as far as I know are still going on with his estate, (Daley died in the mid-1990s when he was only 49) none of his regular works have been reprinted and that's a damn shame. In addition to this and it's sequel, he has a really fun space-opera sequence featuring Alacrity Fitzhugh and several other novels. Daley packed a lot of good fiction writing into a sadly short life and he should be better known than he is, certainly a lot more than just a work-for-hire guy. Look, if you can get me to read Han Solo novels and conclude that they're pretty good, you're doing something very, very right.  

Ack, there's so much more, but I'm getting glassy eyed, I've been looking at this screen for ten hours now and that's jolly well enough.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am doing a quick reread of Gary Hart's book right now (it resonates a hell of a lot more now that I've seen all that Houston, you know? Even if he's so anti-Boesch and anti-Lothario). But I am weirdly tempted to read Blood and Fire. I think if I last another few days that urge will be out of my system thankfully.

I think I might read The Doomfarers of Coramonde this year though. That's on the list.

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1 hour ago, Matt D said:

I think I might read The Doomfarers of Coramonde this year though. That's on the list.

That book is in my local library.  I really should check it out sometime.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/21/2019 at 7:56 AM, J.T. said:

That book is in my local library.  I really should check it out sometime.

Have I ever pimped something that wasn't worthwhile? Go check the book out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

450 pages into Tad Williams' Witchwood Crown, the first book in his second Osten Ard trilogy, which is about how long it sometimes takes epic fantasy of this 90s flavor to fully endear itself to me. And it really has. I was curious to see if decades away would lead to a radically different reading experience, but I've been really impressed with how indulgently comfort food it feels while still polishing and updating here and there. I'm going to read the next book, which is out already, and then the third when it arrives. That means the rest of this year is going to be heavily about big fat fantasy, since I already need to finish Mark Lawrence's and Brent Weeks' series, and start Joe Abercrombie's new one.

(I've also been reminded how deeply indebted to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn ASOIAF is. Martin admits this himself, but still.)

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12 hours ago, Beech27 said:

450 pages into Tad Williams' Witchwood Crown, the first book in his second Osten Ard trilogy, which is about how long it sometimes takes epic fantasy of this 90s flavor to fully endear itself to me. And it really has. I was curious to see if decades away would lead to a radically different reading experience, but I've been really impressed with how indulgently comfort food it feels while still polishing and updating here and there. I'm going to read the next book, which is out already, and then the third when it arrives. That means the rest of this year is going to be heavily about big fat fantasy, since I already need to finish Mark Lawrence's and Brent Weeks' series, and start Joe Abercrombie's new one.

(I've also been reminded how deeply indebted to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn ASOIAF is. Martin admits this himself, but still.)

I must be gravely out-of-step, Tad Williams simply does very little for me. Sort of like this joint mid-way between Seattle and Portland called the Rib-Eye (a favorite hangout of the Bandidos, which is cool by me, makes one feel safe (as long as one gets along with the Bandidos, as I do... I know the proper comments to make on custom work on a chopper, which ticks off several boxes in the "this guy's alright" book. Anyway, it's been a few years now, but the Rib-Eye Special was a $10.95 or $12.95 steak with another $2.00 or $4.00 (I forget which) for the salad bar. None of it was particularly good, but after driving an hour-and one-half, what are you gonna do, fight hunger pangs until you get to Portland? Not bloody likely. You're going to stuff yourself on steak, baked potato and salad bar and hope that there are some cool bikes in the parking lot to look at. 

You'll walk around for a bit saying yourself, "I had a steak dinner!" and feeling quite pleased with yourself for making such an astute choice. A half an hour later the bloom is coming of the rose, yeas you recall that you had a steak,  but you can't recall if you used A-I or the "famous" Rib-Eye sauce on it. Maybe you used Sriacha, hard to say... What did you have at the salad bar? All the green salad ingredients were just fine and the sunflower seeds are always a nice touch. How about the tacos and drumettes? Well, they were in a word, NASTY. I don't know what sort of meat that was in the taco, but the last time I saw something like that a hyena was eating it.  I suspect that the drumettes were boiled  until every last bit of flavor was eradicated  and they were then rolled in cornflake crumbs. Pretty vile. But I had a STEAK DINNER!!! A STEAK DINNER with all the fixins for under TWENTY BUCKS! A STEAK DINNER, AM I RIGHT????

This is akin to how I feel upon reading a Tad Williams book, the sense of emptiness is only compounded by the worrisome expectation that there may be three or five more books before matters  get resolved. But HEY! A STEAK DINNER for under TWENTY BUCKS, you know you want one!

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10 hours ago, OSJ said:

I must be gravely out-of-step, Tad Williams simply does very little for me.

I don't think that makes you out-of-step, really. At least the impression I get is that Williams was never and is not some fantasy titan. Martin and Jordan (and Hobb and Goodkind and Brooks) wildly outsold his original trilogy and are still credited, if I can be very reductive about this, with either making mass market epic fantasy a viable genre category or making it a suitably mature (whatever we take that to mean) genre. It's really Martin's repeated reference to MST that, if I had to guess, prompted this sequel trilogy. (Which, again, is the least he can do, given the obvious extent it inspired his own work.) Nowadays, Williams sells quite a bit less than the other authors I mentioned. But he makes a steak dinner that feels to me like one of those side-of-the-road places that promises "home cooked" approximation, and then actually delivers. Pure comfort food in the way that makes you say something blandly nostalgic about how they don't make them like this anymore. Sanderson probably comes closest, but Williams is more interested in history and classic fantasy tropes, and less on (what strikes me as) gamified magic systems and worldbuilding. There are too many POV characters and sappy conversational cul-de-sacs and apostrophes for days and lore on lore on lore; I can pick out more than a few fantasy authors who do many of the things he does better, but not all at once, and not now. There's also, of course, a large element of taste. Williams' original trilogy is very concerned with Tolkien, whom I read dozens of times when I was young; he just so happened to emphasize the parts I liked and critically respond to the parts I felt uncomfortable with. At the same time, I found Brooks a Diet Rite substitute, Goodkind ideologically and artistically awful, and bounced hard off of Hobb and Jordan for various reasons. (I like ASOIAF, but it's a very different thing.) Now, at 31, I find there's a real lack of "traditional" epic fantasy that makes me feel like I did when I'd walk home from school extra fast to pull out a tattered mass market paperback, so I'm pleased an old favorite is still doing it well. (And still, in the case of Sanderson and Rothfuss, being called a favorite author by people who sell far more books.)

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Okay, here are some targets, this is a good thing! BTW: Nothing unusual about that latter, Stephen King's favorite author is John Farris. I think it safe to say that Mr. King outsells Mr. Farris by a pretty substantial amount.

I did Terry Goodkind prior...

Robert Jordan - The Waste of Time  Saga (Didn't care for him when he was writing Conan, liked his own world-building even less. Perhaps the very epitome of "Extruded Fantasy Product"

Hobb/Lindholm - To her eternal credit, she wrote Wizard of the Pigeons, the best Charles de Lint novel that Charles didn't write. She should have been given a World Fantasy Award for the book, For all the Robin Hobb stuff she should be made to give it back.

Brandon Sanderson - Okay, I AM  NOT JEALOUS though this guy is everything that I am not as a writer: amazingly organized, able to juggle several projects at once. However, stripped down to what counts, I find his work curiously soul-less, while at the same time being hyper-competent. 

George R.R. Martin - FWIW it's worth I've known GRRM a long, long time  now. The news that he was going to launch a fantasy series at the time as the third or fourth re-launch of Wild Cardz seemed odd, but GRRM has a habit of landing on his feet, so I bought and read the first book, laughed knowing that "Mr. I Never Outline" was in way over his his head. 

Rothfuss - I confess to avoiding this author as every single detail screams EXTRUDED FANTASY PRODUCT. I could be wrong, but I don't think that I am.

Terry Brooks - And here I was having a nice day and you mention this guy and make me throw up in my mouth. If nothing else, The Sword of Shanana was an object lesson in just how much you can plagiarize another author and get away with it.  However, the first series surprised me on two counts, it became more original and it became unutterably worse.

So who do I like? Well, there's definitely an old-school bias showing, but let's go with (for starters);

Fritz Leiber 

Michael Shea

Steven Erikson

Scott Lynch

Alastair Rennie

David Gemmell

Karl Edward Wagner

Michael Moorcock

You could make the point (and I'm not certain that you'd be wrong, that I tend to prefer micro-epics, in other words, two characters ripping off the enchanted whatsis is every bit as interesting to me as the clash of armies 100,000 strong.. The 100,000 army is okay if they're facing a superhuman menace like one of Erikson's Jaghut Tyrants. You could also make the point (and it would be a fair one) that most of these books would benefit from additional POV narratives, if for no other reason than the villain is a hero on the other side. The last time that this was really done well? Way back in the 1920s in E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ourorboros, King Gorice, Lords Corund, Corinus, & Gro are essentially noble warriors, with only Corsus seeming to be a double-dealing priick.The novel suffers only from the lack of originality shown by the author in naming his various races; Witches, Ghouls, Demons, Pixies, etc. There is nothing demonic about Lords Juss, Spitfire, Brandoch Daha, and Goldry Bluzco; not are their any Witch-like characteristics about Gorice, Coruns, & Corund. While the Ghouls appear only off-stage and in the past-tense, one suspects that it was unlikely that they consumed the flesh of the recently deceased. What Eddison did here didn't even have a name until the 1960s when it was James Blish (IIRC) who coined the term mytholatry for what Roger Zelazny was doing in Creatures of Light & Darkness, a book every bit as hamfisted as The Worm Ouroboros, when it comes to nomenclature. The problem with naming a people "Demons" or a character "Horus" is that you drag every description of said character along for the ride whether or not you mean to.

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Sanderson as Storm is a pretty spot on comparison. I have a friend who really likes Sanderson, who balks at my characterization of him as an "IKEA writer", no matter how many times I insist that's actually a compliment. I do find the videos of his BYU class on youtube to be very useful, and I'm buying Stormlight, so I can't be too negative.

15 hours ago, OSJ said:

Okay, here are some targets, this is a good thing! BTW: Nothing unusual about that latter, Stephen King's favorite author is John Farris. I think it safe to say that Mr. King outsells Mr. Farris by a pretty substantial amount.

It isn't unusual, and I don't mean to imply that sales ought to be an ironclad metric of quality; I only mean that Williams has never been popular enough that one would be out of step in not being a fan. As for King: He'd have a hard time finding--much less liking--authors who sold more copies than he does; although he does like the Harry Potter and Jack Reacher books, so it's possible.

To say more on some of the other writers mentioned (I've read all of them but Shea, who I'll now check out)...

Jordan: I find a couple of his Conan pastiches harmless fun, but Wheel of Time actively bad. It's probably the most popular thing in fantasy that I just don't get. Other than Goodkind's books, perhaps.

Rothfuss: In terms of the premise of his series, you'd be right. Special Orphaned Boy goes to magic school, seeking his destiny and revenge. The charm of it is in the execution, as Rothfuss is a very good prose stylist. Problem is, he's not much of a plotter, or even an active writer, at this point. He strikes me as a polymath who wanted to publish a novel, did, and is now caught in the maelstrom of its unexpected success.

Brooks: Agreed. But when I was 8 or so, a LOTR with the serial numbers and archaic prose filed off appealed to me.

Erikson: I think I'm one of an impossibly small number of people who read and merely liked the Malazan books without getting completely enveloped; I've always been told you either bounce right off, or love it beyond much else in the genre. Still, I lost track of the series after... four books, I think?, and I've been meaning to start over and finish them all.

Eddison: Worm is one of the best things I've ever read.

You are right there's an old-school tilt to things mentioned here, as well as a... well, genre classifications are weird and arbitrary, but let's call it heroic fantasy or sword and sorcery or pulp. In the ballpark. Which I love, and would love if more people were still writing--or at least, if more publishers were still highlighting. Single or dual POV fantasy with some thriller pacing seems to me an under-exploited market in 2019. And I do have a bit of a currency bias myself, which dictates I read a fair bit of what is published in any given year. What I like about Williams is he's still releasing books in 2019 that have an early 90s quality to them (which is my old school) that don't strike me as past their use-by date the moment they arrive on a shelf. Weeks and Sanderson are still doing that, and I'm reading them too--and there's also Abraham and Sullivan and probably a few others I haven't read (though in Abraham's case, I'm reading The Expanse)--but mostly the trend is still either grimdark or a reaction/riff on it. Sometimes I want fake elves in fake medieval Europe with a dark lord and a magic item and quests in a book I haven't read before. It's not all I want--I read and enjoyed Lonesome Dove, Middlemarch, a Biogeochemistry textbook, a pop philosophy survey, and a Jack Reacher novel right before this--and it's not all I want the genre to be, but I'd be sad if that form went away altogether.

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Anyone that can't dig Michael Moorcock may as well just walk into speeding traffic right this minute.

I am still waiting for HBO or Netfilx to give me the Elric of Melebone saga live action serial that I deserve.

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2 hours ago, J.T. said:

Anyone that can't dig Michael Moorcock may as well just walk into speeding traffic right this minute.

I am still waiting for HBO or Netfilx to give me the Elric of Melebone saga live action serial that I deserve.

Not all Moorcock is created equal though.

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Looks like Waste of Time is getting cast by Amazon, and I'm not completely bothered by it yet.  Casting Rosamund Pike as Moiraine...well, let's just say it has a similar effect to what 13-year-old me would have felt.

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  • 2 months later...

I've decided to embark on a pretty arduous task, I'm going to try to read (or listen) to the following fantasy series.  

  • Codex Alera -- I'm already almost done with the final book, and think this is a pretty good series overall.  The setting is more Roman Legion than the usual Medieval Europe and it works because  there is pretty much constant war in these books.  My favorite thing this series did in my view is make the main character earn everything.  He starts the series as the least powerful person in the entire kingdom, but his journey increases his power to the point were he's almost a force of nature.  Because he started as such a weak character, he's had to learn how to think outside of the box and be creative when everyone else has the option to use brute force.  It makes all of his victories feel earned, and endears him to the reader.  My biggest criticism is a mild spoiler, so I'll tag it, but I'm not giving away any plot points.
Spoiler

Not enough named characters die.  Every book has a threat that feels overwhelming, but by the end of the series you kind of just assume everything is going to be alright, because no one who matters dies in a way that isn't expected.  There are massive battles in all of these books and I don't think anyone we can call a hero gets killed until the 5th book, and everyone with a brain could see it coming from book 2.  People die in war, including the people you grow to love.  

  • I've started listening to The Wheel of Time for the second time.  I stopped after the second book the first time, but I'm going to try to plow through to the end.  I feel like I need to read this series more than I want to read this series, if that makes any sense at all.  For what it's worth, I really like the first book.  It makes me want to follow these characters for the duration of 14 books, but I hate the naming conventions in these books.  It goes past the point where it makes me feel more immersed in the world and moved into me asking, what is this gibberish.
  • I'm going to start The Witcher series by the end of the week.  I'm excited for the Netflix series and want to read the books.  Maybe I'll finally get into the games.
  • My audio book listening is generally broken up between 2 books at a time.  One of them is generally a long read, which will be filled with The Wheel of Time for the time being, and a shorter one which I'll be dedicating to The Dresden Files.  I'm currently between book 4 and 5 and will be starting as soon as I'm done with Thrawn.
  • After The Witcher series, I'm going to start Mistborn, then Lightbringer, then The Stormlight Archive.  If I'm still on a fantasy kick after this, I'm going to try the Malazan books again, but I read the first one and couldn't wait for it to be over.  It never grabbed me at all, and I didn't want to spend any more time trying to figure out that world. 
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  • 2 weeks later...

I finished the first book in The Witcher series, "Blood of Elves."  I like the book, but there are some real pacing issues that make it a bit of a slog to get through.  The sections that feature Geralt, Ciri, Yenefer, Triss, and/or Dandelion are great and feel like they are moving the story forward, but there are also chapters that seem to come out of nowhere.  There are seven chapters in the book and at the start of chapter 5 you get about 30 pages where a bunch of characters you've never heard of have a long ass conversation.  It is like the author decided, "This story needs some political intrigue, but I'm already about 60% finished and I don't want to rewrite any of the earlier sections."  If this section was cut by about 30% or featured characters I cared about, I wouldn't have an issue, but it really felt like you're sitting at a bar and the people next to you are talking too loud to ignore.  I didn't really want to hear what they're saying, but I did and I guess it added a little to the story.  

The biggest criticism to this book though is that it feels incomplete as a story.  There is not a beginning or an ending, it is just a whole lot of middle.  I know that there are a couple books of short stories that came out before the novels, but that's not really an excuse to not introduce any of the characters in a novel.  The book starts with a dream sequence, and ends with a flashback...but neither of them are detailed enough to be called a beginning or an end.  We don't know how much of the dream is true, and the flashback still only tells part of the story.  So we basically get thrown into the middle of this adventure and by the end you are kind of still are asking the same questions you had when you started.  With that said, I'm pretty invested in the story of how Ciri came to be attached to Geralt and Yenefer, and want to see how it plays out. 

I'm tempted to keep reading just the novels, but I don't think it is going to be nearly as enjoyable as it would be if I went back and read the short story collections.  I feel like I'll just miss out on a lot of the background I need to actually care about this world.  So, instead of going on to "The Time of Contempt," I'm going backwards to "The Last Wish."

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I don't know whether to stick this here or under "What Are You Reading"?, but could go in either, (assuming that you consider Jack Vance's The Dying Earth to be Epic Fantasy, and I don't think it gets a whole lot more epic than the sun flaming out... For the series proper, you have the original book, which while touted as a "novel" is actually a collection of cleverly linked short stories, a follow-up novel by the author, an authorized follow-up by Michael Shea (which spins off into a very much darker world in the Nifft the Lean series) and several stand-alones, including Cugel the Clever, Rhialto the Marvelous, Morreion: A Tale of the Dying Earth,  and finally Songs from the Dying Earth: A Tribute to Jack Vance. I generally frown on the pastiche, as it is often done very poorly, with Writer "B" having no clue as to what Writer "A" was up to in the first place. For some of the worst crap imaginable try any Lovecraftian tribute anthology and do consider that the source material consisted of about a dozen really good stories, another dozen that were pretty fair and that was about it...  The Legacy of Lovecraft is vastly over-rated, even so, it's much more fun galivanting  around in someone else's world instead of troubling to create your own. 

Anyway, a bunch of folks have shown the audacity to attempt to emulate Jack Vance, who being argumentively the finest prose-stylist that the genre ever produced has set a pretty damned high bar. I am intimidated by only a few in my field, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Shea, James Branch Cabell, and of course, Jack Vance. As I have a pretty high opinion of my own work and the number of awards and accolades would seem to indicate that these feelings are shared by at least a few others, I would still run screaming into the night before I would attempt such a project. Still... The right names seem to be present, so at least if it turns out to be a train-wreck, it will be an interesting train-wreck... 

Okay, so far.so good... Only Robert Silverberg could pull off making a story about drinking wine seem good, "seem"? Hell, it IS good, even though the plot is as thin as a pair of Paige's panties. Robert Silverberg's the man who upon being handed his intinerary for his panels, autograph sessions and what-have-have-you explained politely that he hadn't come all the way from Souhern Cali. to Seattle for any of that stuff, he had come to eat geoduck, and  eating geoduck was precisely what he intended to do, and that the sooner he could be about his clammish business, the sooner he could resume more regular Con activities. There is much to be said for such single-minded purpose...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm still trying to get through The Last Wish, and I'm becoming more and more sure that The Witcher series is not for me.  It isn't bad, but it's written in a way that makes me uninvested in the world.  Once the action gets going I tend to like it, it's just the slow, plodding, setup that I don't like.  

With that out of the way, I have to say I'm all-in on The Dresden Files.  I've listened to Death Masks and Blood Rites, and I just want to spend more time in that world.  Dresden is likeable, but I'm still more fascinated with Murphy and Susan as characters.  I know they already tried to adapt this series to television, but it honestly feels like they need to keep trying until they get it right.  

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Friend of mine (a bookseller who coincidentally has signed copies of everything this guy has written for sale), turned me on to John C. Wright. I approached with a feeling of dread, introducing yourself as a "Christian author" is not the best way to endear yourself to me, but I'd read one story by Wright (in the aforementioned Vance tribute antho) and he hit all the right notes, so I figure I'll give him a shot. Yeah, this dude can write and best of all he keeps his personal beliefs on his website and twitter feed where they can be enjoyed (if that's the word I'm looking for) by like-minded individuals. Apparently his act was too much for TOR or Baen Books (and when you're too conservative for Baen Books, that's saying something), so he's now published by a tiny house that's known for publishing human feces like Vox Day. Give him a shot, whatever the dudes personal beliefs (which I respect, while disagreeing wholeheartedly), he keeps that stuff out of his fiction unlike some people (like Orson Scott Card, as vile a creature who has ever walked the Earth). 

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On 9/26/2019 at 5:07 PM, supremebve said:

I'm still trying to get through The Last Wish, and I'm becoming more and more sure that The Witcher series is not for me.  It isn't bad, but it's written in a way that makes me uninvested in the world.  Once the action gets going I tend to like it, it's just the slow, plodding, setup that I don't like.  

I finished "The Last Wish," and it is not bad, but it was a slog and a half to get through.  The book was only about 300 pages, but it felt like it was about 100 pages of filler.  It is written like an epic fantasy, except all the descriptions and exposition don't actually make the world feel bigger.  The reason epic fantasy is that all the small things add up to a bigger whole, but I don't feel like there is a whole here.  I feel like this is a bunch of stories that are told in the same world, that don't actually add up to anything when put together.  This feels more like a television show with a monster of the week without being serialized at all.  All the stories happen in the same world, which is fun, but they don't have anything tying them together.  Beyond that, the world isn't very interesting.  From what I can tell, it is a massive world with different races of beings that happens to be full of monsters.  The issue is I can't tell you anything about the culture in any of these places, what the wants and needs of the different races are, or why the world is overrun with monsters.  Geralt just shows up in a place, has an adventure, and leaves.  There is one story that feels like it is building a larger world, where Geralt is taken captive by a band of Elves, except there is a bit of deus ex machina and we never hear from any of those characters again.  I don't want it to feel like I'm just shitting all over this, because it isn't bad, it just isn't what I want from this type of series.  I bought "The Time of Contempt" before I finished "Blood of Elves," so I'll probably end up reading it...but I'm taking a break before I start it.  

Starting Mistborn, I'll see where it takes me.

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  • 1 month later...

I really liked Mistborn.  It took some time to get going, and it almost overexplained everything, but I was all the way invested by the end.  With that said, I found it difficult to get into the book at first.  I don't know if it was all the exposition or that I was just kind of burned out on reading, but it took me forever to want to read more than a chapter or two at a time.  Another observation (I don't know if it is a criticism yet) is that for a fantasy book, the writing style is kind of dry.  Not that it's boring, but there is a charismatic leader who has an undeniable cult of personality, but when it comes to memorable quotes, there isn't much there.  In a fantasy novel, you kind of expect a bit of scene chewing that never really happens.  There is never really a moment that screams, "Oh, this is why they follow him," but at the same time, I was able to see why they believed in him.  At the end of the book, I think I get why Sanderson wrote him that way, but it still feels a bit weird.  Going forward, I can't wait to see how Vin grows, how her power develops, and how the new status quo gets put to the test.  This was all I could hope for in an introduction to a series.  This book could absolutely stand alone as a novel, but it sets the table for so much more.  

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9 hours ago, supremebve said:

I really liked Mistborn.  It took some time to get going, and it almost overexplained everything, but I was all the way invested by the end.  With that said, I found it difficult to get into the book at first.  I don't know if it was all the exposition or that I was just kind of burned out on reading, but it took me forever to want to read more than a chapter or two at a time.  Another observation (I don't know if it is a criticism yet) is that for a fantasy book, the writing style is kind of dry.  Not that it's boring, but there is a charismatic leader who has an undeniable cult of personality, but when it comes to memorable quotes, there isn't much there.  In a fantasy novel, you kind of expect a bit of scene chewing that never really happens.  There is never really a moment that screams, "Oh, this is why they follow him," but at the same time, I was able to see why they believed in him.  At the end of the book, I think I get why Sanderson wrote him that way, but it still feels a bit weird.  Going forward, I can't wait to see how Vin grows, how her power develops, and how the new status quo gets put to the test.  This was all I could hope for in an introduction to a series.  This book could absolutely stand alone as a novel, but it sets the table for so much more.  

1. Best part of that book is the balls. The other two books are very different. 

2. Sanderson is mechanically sound but ultimately empty. He writes like someone who's read a lot about the world and experienced very little. You're not wrong. Wonderful worldbuilding though.

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