Favorite fantasy/sci-fi literature other than Tolkien
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:14 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:Green Ronin Publishing actually made an RPG setting about this sort of literature.

It is called Blue Rose, and it sets D&D in the world of the modern fantasy novel where liberal politics are the key campaign issues and evil is defined as being insensitive to minorities, disrespectful to women and harmful to the environment.  Depending on your political bent you can regard the Blue Rose setting as either a new high in gaming or a wonderful satire on modern fantasy writers.

There are, however, some equally cloying examples from conservative politics.  Robert Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land mostly to comment on modern culture and religion.   He wrote Starship Troopers as a commentary on the anti-war movement of the Vietnam Era.  Starship Troopers actually includes multiple scenes where characters spew hippy rhetoric and other characters demonstrate how stupid their Leftist arguments are.

Dune is a thinly veiled metaphor about oil and Islam.

Aslan has a few speeches in the Narnia stories, but he gets a pass because lions are cool and the books never pretended to be anything but metaphor.

I prefer my metaphor more honest.  I like Wagner's Cold Light, which is about how extreme devotion to law and good can become more evil than the evil it fights.  In Wagner's stories, real evil is far older than mankind, and human attempts at evil are kind of pathetic against the real horrors hiding around their world.  I like Moorcock's Elric stories, where Elric is just slightly less disgusting than the asshats he kills.  But, I suspect that the anti-hero appeals more to my generation than it does to the younger generation of readers....judging by the crap they buy and read.  (How Mercedes Lackey ever published a second book is a mystery to me.  It was probably the same publisher who read one Wheel of Time novel and still wanted to read another one.)


You're just mean.  :cry:


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:19 am 
 

jonjhargreaves wrote:Have loved the KEW Kane stuff, thanks to this thread.

http://www.amazon.com/Where-Summer-Ends ... 1933618973

Saw this, any thoughts on his Horror stories from those in the know?

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I just re-read this post.

I have a problem with a $45 compilation book from an author who did not really write all that much...and the $45 book has "Volume 1" in its title.  PDT_Armataz_01_02      But, wow!  We're getting such a good deal at $27.95!  :roll:

Today, I bought a double CD set of The Essential Neil Diamond...but it seems that "Come Dry Your Eyes" was not deemed essential enough while a song with the words "crunchy granola" in the title was apparently deemed essential as all hell.   :x   (I paid $3.99)


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:33 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
FormCritic wrote:There are, however, some equally cloying examples from conservative politics.  Robert Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land mostly to comment on modern culture and religion.   He wrote Starship Troopers as a commentary on the anti-war movement of the Vietnam Era.  Starship Troopers actually includes multiple scenes where characters spew hippy rhetoric and other characters demonstrate how stupid their Leftist arguments are.

Dune is a thinly veiled metaphor about oil and Islam.

Aslan has a few speeches in the Narnia stories, but he gets a pass because lions are cool and the books never pretended to be anything but metaphor.


You're just mean.  :cry:


Yeah, but dead on this time, for the most part :).

Aslan doesn't get a pass from me, though. Even when I was 11 and reading these, I got to the part where he surrenders himself as a sacrifice to save Edmund, and face met palm. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before that point, and it only goes downhill from there. Lewis was a hamfisted hack, IMO.

And except for Dune. There's a whole lot more going on there than commentary on Islam and oil. The book may be allegorical on some level, but it's more complex than that, and there's certainly no one-to-one correspondence between people/organizations/events in the book(s) and real life. Those Fremen (free men) dudes are American-style revolutionaries of some sort, for starters...


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:40 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:I just re-read this post.

I have a problem with a $45 compilation book from an author who did not really write all that much...and the $45 book has "Volume 1" in its title.  PDT_Armataz_01_02      But, wow!  We're getting such a good deal at $27.95!  :roll:


If you like the dead tree format and quality book design/construction, it doesn't get much better than Centipede Press. I'm not purchasing this title because I'm not interested in KEW's work, but $45 is dirt cheap for a hefty (360 pages) collection of out-of-print stories by a relatively obscure author in a new, top notch edition. I recently bought Centipede's two Leiber novel reprints (Our Lady of Darkness and Conjure Wife) and they're gorgeous and solid as bricks.

I find it a little ironic that on a site frequented by people who would spend hundreds on several loose leaf pages in a ziploc bag, or 1500% of retail for an adventure module signed in a different color ink by the author, high end small press books seem overpriced :).


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:13 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:I guess I differ on how they look on the shelf.  I prefer them [ex-library books] because I think they look good.


Incidentally, you can buy those mylar dustjacket covers (Brodart, can find them on eBay, buy the archival ones) and put them on non-library hardcovers yourself. I do it with all of mine. I like ex-lib copies too, as long as they don't have a catalog sticker at the base of the spine.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:04 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:He wrote Starship Troopers as a commentary on the anti-war movement of the Vietnam Era.  Starship Troopers actually includes multiple scenes where characters spew hippy rhetoric and other characters demonstrate how stupid their Leftist arguments are.


Not to be nitpicky, buy I am pretty sure Starship Troopers was written in the late 50's and predates Hippies and the Anti-war movement. It doesn't invalidate your point though. He does skewer hippy-esque thinking and was obviously very pro-military.

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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:39 pm 
 

Correct, Starship Troopers was written in the late '50s. It's been a while since I've read it, but as a I recall it probably had a lot more to do with Heinlein propounding his rockribbed individualist/militarist and near-paranoid anti-communist views (not to say I think he's wrong, but he definitely comes across as overly strident at times).

The chief Vietnam-inspired novel that comes to my mind is The Forever War, by Haldeman, which of course takes a nearly opposite viewpoint to Heinlein's (i.e., warfare is pointless, futile, and destructive to both sides).

Both are overly simplistic in my view--frothing bloodlust on one side and head-in-the-sand peacenik nonsense on the other. Can't win with military SF, which is why I don't read it anymore.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:15 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Can't win with military SF, which is why I don't read it anymore.

Even though they are far from literary masterpieces, I really enjoyed The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell and a few of John Scalzi's books.  Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades were quick and enjoyable to read.  Lots of stuff exploding, some decent bloody fighting, and some off-the-wall tech makes all the difference.  Who needs deep characterization and feelings when you have nukes and particle beams wiping out entire cities?  :twisted:


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:32 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Can't win with military SF, which is why I don't read it anymore.

Even though they are far from literary masterpieces, I really enjoyed The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell and a few of John Scalzi's books.  Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades were quick and enjoyable to read.  Lots of stuff exploding, some decent bloody fighting, and some off-the-wall tech makes all the difference.  Who needs deep characterization and feelings when you have nukes and particle beams wiping out entire cities?  :twisted:


Campbell's Lost Fleet series is just good, old fashioned "lost space fleet fighting their way back home" fun.  Not too deep, characterization is pretty shallow, but a good idea and lots of fun action scenes.  Don't think too hard and you'll enjoy them.

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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:48 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
I find it a little ironic that on a site frequented by people who would spend hundreds on several loose leaf pages in a ziploc bag, or 1500% of retail for an adventure module signed in a different color ink by the author, high end small press books seem overpriced :).


Well - you have me there!   :salut:


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:52 pm 
 

Nogrod wrote:
FormCritic wrote:He wrote Starship Troopers as a commentary on the anti-war movement of the Vietnam Era.  Starship Troopers actually includes multiple scenes where characters spew hippy rhetoric and other characters demonstrate how stupid their Leftist arguments are.


Not to be nitpicky, buy I am pretty sure Starship Troopers was written in the late 50's and predates Hippies and the Anti-war movement. It doesn't invalidate your point though. He does skewer hippy-esque thinking and was obviously very pro-military.

Zach


Interesting - I guess I was quoting something I read elsewhere without checking it out.

I enjoyed Starship Troopers immensely at the age I first read it.

I don't think Starship Troopers is pro-military so much as it is anti-foolishness.

"War never solved anything."  Umm...Hitler?  Nazi Germany?


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:04 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
Yeah, but dead on this time, for the most part :).

Aslan doesn't get a pass from me, though. Even when I was 11 and reading these, I got to the part where he surrenders himself as a sacrifice to save Edmund, and face met palm. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before that point, and it only goes downhill from there. Lewis was a hamfisted hack, IMO.

And except for Dune. There's a whole lot more going on there than commentary on Islam and oil. The book may be allegorical on some level, but it's more complex than that, and there's certainly no one-to-one correspondence between people/organizations/events in the book(s) and real life. Those Fremen (free men) dudes are American-style revolutionaries of some sort, for starters...


Lewis is a dork, unless the reader is sympathetic to his Christian viewpoint...on which he is both subtle and profound.  On a deeper level, in the Narnia novels Lewis isn't just blathering about Jesus.  He has a lot to say about moral dilemmas, human nature, the cycles of history, the cynicism of the modern world versus the wonder of childhood and the nature of God.

One thing to remember about the Narnia novels:  They are not evangelism.  They are a Christian thinker talking to other Christians about God.  Everyone else is just invited along as guests.

One of my favorite moments is in The Silver Chair, when a girl who is new to Narnia tries to reassure herself that Aslan wouldn't harm a young girl.  Aslan responds that not only would he harm little girls, he has swallowed entire nations.  God, speaking through Aslan, does not offer excuses, justifications or explanations.  That isn't kid stuff.  It is Lewis saying something about the nature of God that is worth discussing between adults.

As for Dune - I agree it is a much bigger and more important work than just a dime novel about Jihadism.  Dune had a profound influence on my thinking starting at 9th grade, when I got it for my birthday.  

I don't agree with the Fremen as American revolutionaries, unless you see the American Revolution as largely the result of mis-understandings and accidents.  The Fremen are great fighters and survivors, but they are wrong about just about everything else.  They live on a backward world with a religion about godlike worms and a nasty, fabricated messiah tradition.  They explode into jihad and inter-planetary massacre that their supposed messiah doesn't want but is powerless to stop.  They upset a feudal, dynastic system that has not accounted for their existence, but they bring no freedom, no peace and no real solutions except the freedom to be considered an infidel if you do not fit their childish misconceptions about the universe.

I guess there is the American Revolution metaphor in Dune about a distant emperor who has issued orders about a distant colony in complete ignorance of the actual situation...and so provokes a firestorm that he never saw coming from a people he has completely misjudged.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:20 pm 
 

Two novels I read this week on my Nook:

Use of Weapons by Iain Banks and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.  The two books seem to have been written from a very similar model...although with quite different results.

I can see why Slaughterhouse Five is a classic.  Vonnegut manages to write an entire book with no plot, no point, no actual storyline and very little to actually say (except that all of us are weak and foolish and the concept of a hero is an illusion)...and still be brilliant.  He even inserts himself into the story freely, occasionally crossing paths with his main character, without seeming hopelessly arrogant.  Slaughterhouse Five is an accomplishment.

Use of Weapons left me confused.  Banks is a good writer with a ton of cool ideas about the future.  It is a future where a small group of people have grown to Star Trek technical proficiency and lofty moral self-righteousness, but the bulk of humanity remain boring old humans living on backward old Earth-like worlds...and the smart, cool people must manipulate them for their own good.  But Banks does not bother to tell a story so much as a series of extended vignettes that add up to an ironic ending.  It left me confused because Banks appears to have spent 300 pages setting me up for a final twist that would have been more appropriate to a short story.  There must be fans of Banks out there, since he seems to have written a number of novels....?  Anyone?


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:57 pm 
 

Hey, I read Use of Weapons years ago, and had completely forgotten! It must've been one of his early novels, 'cause for some reason I never made the connection with his more recent stuff and thought I hadn't read anything by him. I must have had a fairly similar "letdown" at the end, though, since I never sought out anything else by Banks.

Even with authors I dislike personally and/or politically, I usually give them at least a second or third chance, especially if they're "important" (e.g., I've read literally everything by Heinlein even though I think he was a total asshat, and most of Asimov despite everything I've read by him except the so-called "robot" novels being a complete snooze-fest). Maybe Banks has gotten better, though; he's certainly been successful enough lately. This practice has paid off a few times by leading me to a book by an author I otherwise detest which was actually pretty decent--Macroscope by Piers Anthony, for instance.

I hear Scalzi's Old Man's War is good; I'll have to pick it up.

The Fremen are great fighters and survivors, but they are wrong about just about everything else.  They live on a backward world with a religion about godlike worms and a nasty, fabricated messiah tradition.  They explode into jihad and inter-planetary massacre that their supposed messiah doesn't want but is powerless to stop.  They upset a feudal, dynastic system that has not accounted for their existence, but they bring no freedom, no peace and no real solutions except the freedom to be considered an infidel if you do not fit their childish misconceptions about the universe.


[sarcasm]Naw, that description doesn't sound like Americans and America at aaaalll.[/sarcasm] Seriously, if you read that three times fast, it sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:14 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:.[sarcasm]Naw, that description doesn't sound like Americans and America at aaaalll.[/sarcasm] Seriously, if you read that three times fast, it sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?



No, it doesn't sound like the issues of the American Revolution at all.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:01 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:Two novels I read this week on my Nook:

Use of Weapons by Iain Banks and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.  The two books seem to have been written from a very similar model...although with quite different results.

I can see why Slaughterhouse Five is a classic.  Vonnegut manages to write an entire book with no plot, no point, no actual storyline and very little to actually say (except that all of us are weak and foolish and the concept of a hero is an illusion)...and still be brilliant.  He even inserts himself into the story freely, occasionally crossing paths with his main character, without seeming hopelessly arrogant.  Slaughterhouse Five is an accomplishment.



I was quite the Vonnegut fan when younger, reading everything up to Bluebeard.  His "sweet spot" was right after he gave up the sciencefictional stylings of Player Piano and Sirens of Titan to go on a run that included Mother Night, Cat's Cradle, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse Five, and Breakfast of Champions.  All are all over the place, but have some really fun insights and very dark humor.  Then he started getting political (Vonnegut was extremely committed to anti-war movements) and every story has the same ending, the collapse of society.   His first few novels really have a lot of keen insights into morality, ethics, and the human condition.  The later ones get pretty preachy and if you can't figure out Vonnegut is a liberal socialist humanist by the first chapter, you aren't paying attention.  I saw him give a talk, not once but twice, and he was a fascinating, funny, and intelligent speechmaker.   He did, however, advocate the US immediately surrender to Russia (during the early 80s cold war) so that we could live as slaves because that was preferable to facing global nuclear annihilation.  Seriously.

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:44 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
MetamorphosisSigma wrote:.[sarcasm]Naw, that description doesn't sound like Americans and America at aaaalll.[/sarcasm] Seriously, if you read that three times fast, it sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?



No, it doesn't sound like the issues of the American Revolution at all.


Uh, yeah, there's that. Pardon me, I was on vacation with the family last week, and evidently trying to post while under the influence of single malt while trying to use my in-laws outmoded PC quickly so I could get back to paying attention to the kids... isn't the best strategy if you want to be coherent. Also, I wasn't referring to 18th century American revolutionaries, as you seem to assume, but to our latter-day reactionaries.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:15 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
I can see why Slaughterhouse Five is a classic.  Vonnegut manages to write an entire book with no plot, no point, no actual storyline and very little to actually say (except that all of us are weak and foolish and the concept of a hero is an illusion)...and still be brilliant.  He even inserts himself into the story freely, occasionally crossing paths with his main character, without seeming hopelessly arrogant.  Slaughterhouse Five is an accomplishment.


Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favorite books. So it goes...  :thumright:


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