Favorite fantasy/sci-fi literature other than Tolkien
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:03 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
There is a soft cover collection of all 4 Viriconium books. I have it around somewhere I will have to see what the title and isbn are.


Cool, thanks. I think I've seen it on Amazon, but whenever I do I don't have money, and whenever I have money I forget to look for it. I guess that's what wish lists are for, but I spend less money this way :).


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:04 pm 
 

One of the best books in my collection is a compliation by Zelazny titled, The Great Book of Amber.

It is a collection of both series of Amber novels in one volume.

I head back to re-read at least the first series once every decade.  It fascinates me how my understanding of the source material behind the story has grown over the years since my first reading.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:06 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:One of the best books in my collection is a compliation by Zelazny titled, The Great Book of Amber.

It is a collection of both series of Amber novels in one volume.


Yeah, it's a great omnibus if you take a razor knife and carefully cut out the last five books  :lol: .

I head back to re-read at least the first series once every decade.


Me too. The first five (Nine Princes in Amber through The Courts of Chaos) are classic. The second five are the most disappointing sequel series ever, IMHO. They make the last three Dune books (EDIT: by this I mean the ones by Frank, I wouldn't read the others at all, so wouldn't know) look like masterpieces :).

The first-person perspective Zelazny uses (a rare thing in SF/F) gives the whole thing a hardboiled detective kind of feel which works great. The amnesiac godling angle is great, too. My favorite line: "Out of every life a little blood must flow. Unfortunately it was my turn again."


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:11 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
Me too. The first five (Nine Princes in Amber through The Courts of Chaos) are classic. The second five are the most disappointing sequel series ever, IMHO. They make the last three Dune books (EDIT: by this I mean the ones by Frank, I wouldn't read the others at all, so wouldn't know) look like masterpieces :).


Zelazny seems to have set out to write another Amber series without remembering what made the first series great...a sense of wonder in a relatively high fantasy setting.

His next series, full of incongruous wizards who cast spells, is low fantasy with no sense of wonder.  It is interesting to read about Amber after the crisis of the first series...but...without the first series, the second series might as well have been printed for the young, female readers market.

Still, there are some good lines....

"What's the chance of meeting a Prince of Chaos here?"

"One in one."


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:36 pm 
 

Not sure if I've ever posted my "short list" (i.e., top ten), so here goes, in no particular order of preference:

1) Lovecraft - later work over the early stuff.
2) Frank Herbert - just Dune.
3) Cordwainer Smith - "You will" truly "never be the same."
4) James Tiptree, Jr. - indescribable.
5) Clark Ashton Smith - Zothique first, though his Hyperborean and other stuff is good too.
6) Alfred Bester - The Stars my Destination (Gully Foyle is my name/Terra is my nation/Deep space is my dwelling place/The stars my destination)
7) Peter S. Beagle - a much neglected mega-talent that deserves to be read; if you think The Last Unicorn is all he has to offer (as if that wouldn't be enough) you're sorely mistaken.
8) Lord Dunsany - uneven, but his best stuff is very good.
9) Michael Moorcock - Elric for gloom, Dancers at the End of Time for hilarity.
10) William Gibson - Neuromancer was brilliant; too bad he has been unsuccessfully trying to recapture the magic that happened there ever since :(.

Plus anything by Leiber, PKD, Zelazny, Avram Davidson, or W. Olaf Stapledon. Okay, call it a top 20-ish list.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:05 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
Me too. The first five (Nine Princes in Amber through The Courts of Chaos) are classic. The second five are the most disappointing sequel series ever, IMHO. They make the last three Dune books (EDIT: by this I mean the ones by Frank, I wouldn't read the others at all, so wouldn't know) look like masterpieces :).

The first-person perspective Zelazny uses (a rare thing in SF/F) gives the whole thing a hardboiled detective kind of feel which works great. The amnesiac godling angle is great, too. My favorite line: "Out of every life a little blood must flow. Unfortunately it was my turn again."


I'm quite happy with the Amber book club edition two-volume set of the first five books. The Boris cover leaves a lot to be desired (and they used the same picture for both volumes) but it is nice to have the series in two manageable hardcovers rather than a single unwieldly edition (such as msost LotR one volume hardbacks).

One of my favorite quotes come from the very beginning of the book.

It was a very foul blow, about four inches below the belt buckle, I'd say, and it left him on his knees.

"---- ---!" he said, after a time.


After that exchange I knew I'd like this book. Absolutely nothing like I first expected when I picked it up. (I had the paperback copy with the knight in armor on the white background as a cover illustration).

The series just kept on getting better from there.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:54 pm 
 

Two others I didn't see mentioned and a decorative question mark to close.

Patrick Rothfuss - the Name of the Wind - might be the best fantasy novel debut in the last 10 years but plainly feels like 1/2 a book.  Second novel was solid-to-good.
Sanderson - Mistborn - great series.  Good first book, better as a trilogy.  The 'metals system' is elegant and screams for RPG treatment.
R Scott Bakker - I can't decide if this is crap or great.  And there's no middle ground.  It borders on incomprehensible and visionarily great, within the same damn paragraph.

Sunrunner44 - a man with a fix for bad fantasy

PS - ditto Amber, Erickson, Jordan, le Guin, etc.

PPS - Gord the Rogue was crap but massively enjoyable crap.  Tharizdun, baby, Tharizdun!  He makes Graz'zt into a freakin dog, fercrissakes!

PPPS - In my vote for worst fantasy series, whatever that horrible Eddings series was where the 'poor downtrodden kid' was really the king.

PPPPS - really, there's:
1. great fantasy (Tolkien)
2. enjoyable fantasy that's average (Goodkind, let's say (Atlas Shrugged with his Magic Sword!, I called it))
3. Guilty Pleasure Fantasy (Gord the Rogue)
4. Baaaaad fantasy

  

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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:26 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
         Yes, a Kane fan! I also am surprised at his lack of popularity...I run into fantasy afficianados all the time who have never even heard of him (?).  I think it hurts that all of his works are now out of print (except in very pricey specialty edition), he's dead (not writing any new works), and that his output was so sporadic (only three novels and two short story collections in his career, plus a few scattered short stories in the mid 80's).  Unfortunately alcoholism really destroyed his skills long before he actually died.  In some of the critical analysis I've read from his friends, he was ahorrible procrastinator.  Apparantly the Conan novel he wrote (the name escapes me right now) had to be rewritten in like one weekend because he had kept putting it off and finally turned in a load of crap that was rejected by the publisher.  His Bran Mak Morn novel (Legion from the Shadows) was far superior and is the best non Conan pastiche written (vomit on the Offut Cormac Mac Art stuff...)
     I think another reason he's not better known, when you think about it, no one writes like him.  His greatest creation is an anti-hero (the FIRST anti-hero, Kane of the bible).  His stories often end with no triumph for good, and the "heros" dying pretty awful deaths, although Kane's plans are sometimes foiled he always escapes.  I can't imagine a writer trying to pitch the concept of a Kane series  to any publisher and not being laughed out of the office
  The strengths are the writing. KEW is simply the only author of the last 30 years I would dare to compare to Howard. His characters are memorable, his plots intriguing, his views of human nature chilling (but true).  There are several scenes in his works that will stick with you for years.  His battle scenes are some of the best I've ever read, Darkness Weaves has not one but two gigantic ship battles that are breathtaking.
         I would agree with Mark "Reflections" is a superior werewolf story, not to mention a very atypical Kane tale (he falls in love, for one) and a great plot for a DM to adapt to a D&D setting (a manor that is snowed in for the winter is beset by a werewolf that turns out to be one of the people inside the manor!).  As a matter of fact, "Cold Light" and "Lynortis Reprise" would also make great D&D scenarios. I would also agree with Mark that the short stories are generally superior to the novels, but Darkness Weaves is pretty incredible (I've read it, oh, maybe 20 times the last 20 years, and enjoyed it every time....)
   Mark, have you ever read "Misericorde"?  The best Kane story ever written and IMO one of the best fantasy stories bar none written the last 20 years. It's only found in the "Barbarians II" short story collection and in a few other various collections....hard to find, but well worth the search.

Mike B.


Do you have to read Kane in any order? Tom

  

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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:40 am 
 

DiscoDadda wrote:Do you have to read Kane in any order? Tom


Opinion - I think it's probably best to read them in random order...although the novel Darkness Weaves seems to reference the other stories.


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:54 am 
 

DiscoDadda wrote:
Do you have to read Kane in any order? Tom


Nope, they do take place in an "order" but Wagner was never really concerned with that too much.  Personally, I'd start with one of the short story collections to get a feel for the character, then dive into the books as ou find them.  

Darkness Weaves (novel, IMO his best complete work);
Bloodstone (novel)
Dark Crusade (novel)
Death Angel's Shadow
Night Winds

If you can, try to locate the short stories "Misericorde" and "The Other One", both worthy additions to the Kane canon and not included in the above collections (if you want them cheaply they are in the "Barbarians" and "Barbarians II" collection by Robert Adams).  Misericorde is one of my favorite fantasy short stories, ever (although I seem to recall Formcritic hated it!!!). Avoid any of the "future" Kane tales that take place in the present day; they are pretty much awful.

Other decent Wagner: "Legion from the Shadows", probably the best Bran Mak Morn novel out there not written by Howard; "In a Lonely Place" and "Why Not You and I?" (rare and difficult to find collections of Wagner's horror tales, showing a huge Lovecraft/Machen influence; I believe "In a Lonely Place" was voted in some poll or other one of the ten best horror collections of the 20th century);  and the Adrian Becker short stories: Satan's Gun, Hell Creek and One Paris Night (these are about a civil war era gunslinger in the Jonah Hex mold, he has encounters with zombies, werewolves and other supernatural villains, fun stuff and very pulpy).  The Becker stories can be found scattered among various collections or in the (hard to find) collection Exorcisms and Ecstasies (which also has many more stories and lots of bittersweet reminiscing from his friends).

His death by alcoholism was just a damn waste. He was a helluva talented writer.

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:29 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
(I had the paperback copy with the knight in armor on the white background as a cover illustration).

The series just kept on getting better from there.


Hey everyone,

Yeah!! Fellow Amberites. :)
I also owned the paperback copy that Jason described.

Then picked up the Avon paperbacks after that, and eventually the Omnibus. Still have hardcovers of the 2nd series on the bookshelf.

Just out of curiosity have any of you ever read the other Amber books by John Gregory Betancourt?

I heard they were authorized by the Zelazny estate but received lots of mixed reviews.

I figure I'd pass on them, as not the same unless they were written by the man himself.

I heartily recommend his collection of short stories "Unicorn Varations", and the novel "A Night in the Lonesome October".

Best regards,
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:47 am 
 

rhynne wrote:
Hey everyone,

Yeah!! Fellow Amberites. :)
I also owned the paperback copy that Jason described.

Then picked up the Avon paperbacks after that, and eventually the Omnibus. Still have hardcovers of the 2nd series on the bookshelf.

Just out of curiosity have any of you ever read the other Amber books by John Gregory Betancourt?

I heard they were authorized by the Zelazny estate but received lots of mixed reviews.

I figure I'd pass on them, as not the same unless they were written by the man himself.

I heartily recommend his collection of short stories "Unicorn Varations", and the novel "A Night in the Lonesome October".

Best regards,
Ronald


I haven't even managed to choke down the slim volumes of the second series by Zelazny yet. I've picked up and dropped Trumps of Doom three or four times over the years but could never get into it.

There is a lot of good Zelazny out there, and a lot of fun stuff too, even if it isn't the best, but not too fond of his books written with others, or by others, or however they were created.

Lord of Light is excellent, the Divlish books are fun, Roadmarks was fun. I've tried the Masks of Loki and the Black Throne but never got into them.

The best of Zelazny's stuff is easy to come by because most of it was turned into Book Club editions. He was a very good writer with some great stories, and some crap, mostly at the end of his carrier.


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:40 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
I haven't even managed to choke down the slim volumes of the second series by Zelazny yet. I've picked up and dropped Trumps of Doom three or four times over the years but could never get into it.

There is a lot of good Zelazny out there, and a lot of fun stuff too, even if it isn't the best, but not too fond of his books written with others, or by others, or however they were created.

Lord of Light is excellent, the Divlish books are fun, Roadmarks was fun. I've tried the Masks of Loki and the Black Throne but never got into them.

The best of Zelazny's stuff is easy to come by because most of it was turned into Book Club editions. He was a very good writer with some great stories, and some crap, mostly at the end of his carrier.


My thoughts exactly.

Zelazny's collaborative work is subpar--things like Donnerjack, or even the ones where he was the "junior" author such as Deus Irae (with Dick). For some reason they always read like a novel by the other author, but not a good one..?

I (to my eternal shame) did actually purchase the first Betancourt Amber book. I don't even recall the title. It sucked. My understanding is that JGB purchased the rights to the Amber franchise from the Zelazny estate, and that he was in no way chosen by RZ himself as the one to continue the series (which as mentioned, should have been ended after Courts of Chaos anyway :)).


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:51 am 
 

All-

Brian Ruckley The Godless World Trilogy is a Classic... Very Dark, Great Battles, Lotsa Vengence, Good Wins but just barely and you could ask yourself what exactly did they "Win"?  I also found myself rooting for some of the "Bad Guys" And when he wrapped up the Trilogy I was wanting more......... First Book is Called Winterbirth...

Good Read.

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Post Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:32 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
I (to my eternal shame) did actually purchase the first Betancourt Amber book. I don't even recall the title. It sucked. My understanding is that JGB purchased the rights to the Amber franchise from the Zelazny estate, and that he was in no way chosen by RZ himself as the one to continue the series (which as mentioned, should have been ended after Courts of Chaos anyway :)).


Hey Metamorphosis,

Thanks for the review, saved me what amount of dollars I would have spent buying those Betancourt Amber novels. :)

Best regards,
Ronald

  

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Post Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:03 pm 
 

Thanks to All for the leads...

In the last couple days I've picked up:

By Wagner:

Darkness Weaves - PB
Bloodstone - PB
Dark Crusade - PB

By Belliars:

The Face in the Frost - a Nice 1st Edition

By Saberhagen:

Woundhealer - a Nice 1st edition

Also I already have in my library Solomon Kane... Which it seems some of you like even more than Conan....... So this will be read.... Also the search has begun for Erikson and some others...

Thanks Again for your thoughtful responses.

Tom aka DiscoDadda

PS... If anyone interested in a nice BCE edition of the Sword of Shannara just let me know.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:44 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
Cool, thanks. I think I've seen it on Amazon, but whenever I do I don't have money, and whenever I have money I forget to look for it. I guess that's what wish lists are for, but I spend less money this way :).


Sorry this took so long to find. It was at the bottom of a large pile of books stacked to the ceiling on one of my bookcases.

The copy I have is called Viriconium, a soft cover. A bantam spectra trade paperback ISBN 0-553-38315-9

Inside the cover it says
ISBN-13: 978-0-553-383157
ISBN-10: 0-553-38315-9

It has an introduction by Neil Gaimen and contains

The Pastel City Pg1
A Storm of Wings Pg109
In Viriconium Pg255
The Lamia & Lord Cromis Pg341
Viriconium Knights Pg361
The Luck in the Head Pg370
Strange Great Sins Pg401
Lords of Misrule Pg413
The Dancer from the Dance Pg425
A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium Pg445-462


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:53 pm 
 

Has anyone else read the "Song of Albion" trilogy by Stephen Lawhead?

I thought the series was excellent. Definitely easy reading, but very well done.

Other favorites include -

Michael Moorcock (The Corum and Elric books)
Fred Saberhagen
Terry Brooks - Landover novels (not Shannara...blech!)
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman - The first and most recent trilogy

I tend to enjoy the lighter side of fantasy novels and like to enjoy an "easy read." Every once in awhile, I'll pick up something by Lin Carter just for laughs.

Sorry I'm a latecomer to this thread :)


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Post Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:25 pm 
 

Center_Stage wrote:Has anyone else read the "Song of Albion" trilogy by Stephen Lawhead?

I thought the series was excellent. Definitely easy reading, but very well done.

Other favorites include -

Michael Moorcock (The Corum and Elric books)
Fred Saberhagen
Terry Brooks - Landover novels (not Shannara...blech!)
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman - The first and most recent trilogy

I tend to enjoy the lighter side of fantasy novels and like to enjoy an "easy read." Every once in awhile, I'll pick up something by Lin Carter just for laughs.

Sorry I'm a latecomer to this thread :)


I've tried a few Lawhead books but never got into them. Moorcock is a excellent writer, but I hate what he writes about with Elric and Corum. I'm just starting the Runestaff books (Jewel in the Skull).

I've only read Lin Carter as an editor writing introductions to other collections (Like Flashing Swords). What has she written on her own?


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:00 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:

I've tried a few Lawhead books but never got into them. Moorcock is a excellent writer, but I hate what he writes about with Elric and Corum. I'm just starting the Runestaff books (Jewel in the Skull).

I've only read Lin Carter as an editor writing introductions to other collections (Like Flashing Swords). What has she written on her own?






http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Worlds-En ... 0879973218



This series, for one, as well as A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, which is a sort of biography of Lovecraft and a commentary on his stories.   Although he was no great writer, Lin Carter was a big name in fantasy literature for decades.



I recall the title, Down to a Sunless Sea as well as other works.


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