Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:23 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
I've actually read nearly everything by William Faulkner.  Talk about the antithesis of "easy reading".  He's one of the few great writers I never recommend to anyone.....unless they are willing to tough it out.
   Saw an interesting study many years ago when I was researching Faulkner.....a throw away line comparing him to Lovecraft in terms of the monstrosities of his novels.  His novels were pretty hard core southern gothic....it would have been interesting if it could ever be proven he picked up a Lovecraft story, but no one will ever know.  Faulkner was a huge fraud in terms of literary influences, saying in interviews he only read the "classics" and foreign writers, but secretly enjoying pulp and hardboiled fiction (of his friend Hammett, for example).  It's entirely possible he may have picked up a pulp containing "The Shunned House" or "Mountains of Madness" and never told anyone.  

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Never thought of the connection between Faulkner and Lovecraft.

One can almost feel the darkness in the Yahknapotapha (sp?) valley encroaching on Faulkner's characters.  Of course, this darkness makes Faulkner almost impossible to read, but....anyway.

It might be cool to write a story about the Lovecraftian haunting of...William Faulkner.

Or, the Cthulhu Mythos would make a nice addition to the novella, The Bear.  What if the legendary bear being hunted were not really a natural animal at all?

By the way, one of my favorite mythos stories is not by Lovecraft.  It is called Black Man With Horn.  I can't remember the name of the author, but the story is written as a letter to "Howard," (who is long dead when the story begins) from one of his old Wierd Tales protoges.

I believe it was in a DAW collection...I'll have to go find it in a storage bin!  Anyone else familiar with it?


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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:10 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
Never thought of the connection between Faulkner and Lovecraft.

One can almost feel the darkness in the Yahknapotapha (sp?) valley encroaching on Faulkner's characters.  Of course, this darkness makes Faulkner almost impossible to read, but....anyway.

It might be cool to write a story about the Lovecraftian haunting of...William Faulkner.

Or, the Cthulhu Mythos would make a nice addition to the novella, The Bear.  What if the legendary bear being hunted were not really a natural animal at all?

By the way, one of my favorite mythos stories is not by Lovecraft.  It is called Black Man With Horn.  I can't remember the name of the author, but the story is written as a letter to "Howard," (who is long dead when the story begins) from one of his old Wierd Tales protoges.

I believe it was in a DAW collection...I'll have to go find it in a storage bin!  Anyone else familiar with it?


Faulkner's stories concern inbred, stagnant families with dark secrets, along with lots of instances of shocking violence and inhumanity.  Lovecraft's stories concern....well, you get the picture.

The comparisons IMO are so profound and clear at one point I thought about writng my master's thesis about it.  My professor talked me out of it and I ended up instead writing about the noir influences in Faulkner's writing.  I'd still like to take a crack at it.  Wilbur Whateley of The Dunwich Horror could have come from Faulkner country, that's for sure.....

"Black Man With a Horn" is by T.E.D. Klein.  It is one of the most superior Lovcraft pastiches ever written, definitely in the top ten along with "River of Night's Dreaming" by Karl Edward Wagner, "The Tugging" by Ramsey Campbell (only Mythos story ever nominated for a Nebula Award); and "Worms of the Earth" by REH. Klein unfortunately is one of a handful of great horror writers that suffers from seriously debilitating writer's block (the other, ironically, was the late Wagner), otherwise he'd be better known.  All his published short stories are quite well written and have definite Lovecraftian influences.  His one novel, "The Ceremonies", is very Lovecraft inspired.

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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:18 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
The comparisons IMO are so profound and clear at one point I thought about writng my master's thesis about it.  

Mike B.


Joyce Carol Oates wrote:
"The arts of the grotesque are so various as to resist definition. Here we have the plenitude of the imagination itself. From the Anglo-Saxon saga of Grendel's monster-mother, in Beowulf, to impish-ugly gargoyles carved on cathedral walls; from terrifyingly matter-of-fact scenes of carnage in the Iliad, to the hallucinatory vividness of the "remarkable piece of apparatus" of Franz Kafka's "In the Penal Colony"; from the comic-nightmare images of Hieronymous Bosch to the strategic artfulness of twentieth-century film—Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of the 1922 classic of the German silent screen, F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu the Vampyr, to give but one example. The "grotesque" is a sensibility that accommodates the genius of Goya and the kitsch-Surrealism of Dali; the crude visceral power of H. P. Lovecraft and the baroque elegance of Isak Dinesen; the fatalistic simplicity of Grimm's fairy tales and the complexity of vision of which, for instance, William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is a supreme example—the grotesque image as historical commentary."

(God, I envy that woman's talent.)

Keith

P.S. If you haven't read Oates' Haunted short story collections, I highly recommend them.


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Post Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 3:36 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
"Black Man With a Horn" is by T.E.D. Klein.  
Mike B.


Did you pull that up from memory, Mike, or did you look it up somehow?


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Post Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 10:11 am 
 

More specifically, Black Man with a Horn is in the book Dark Gods. I only know this through my research on the guy, because he wrote the screenplay "Trauma" for Dario Argento, and I love me some horror movies!

  

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Post Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:47 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:I don't really object to a critic who points out a writer's flaws or the flaws in a piece of writing.  What I object to is the critic who puts down a genre or a given writer without having read his work.

Of course, I am guilty of that myself...women's romance novels come to mind.  


Mark  8)


Now don't go dissin' women's romance novels!  Try "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon.  It qualifies for this thread as it has time travel at its core.  And lots of romance.  My father looked at it because of his interest in Scottish history (it starts right before the Jacobite rebellion) but decided it was just an excuse for the author to write porn.  My mother and I both loved it, however.  It is terrific.


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Post Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:22 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
Did you pull that up from memory, Mike, or did you look it up somehow?


Not to brag (much), but memory. I know most of the works of guys I enjoy like Klein, Wagner, Howard, Lovecraft, etc.  Also helps that "Horn" is heavily anthologized.  As it should be, it's a great story.

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Post Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:29 pm 
 

lucyjoyce wrote:
Now don't go dissin' women's romance novels!  Try "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon.  It qualifies for this thread as it has time travel at its core.  And lots of romance.  My father looked at it because of his interest in Scottish history (it starts right before the Jacobite rebellion) but decided it was just an excuse for the author to write porn.  My mother and I both loved it, however.  It is terrific.


Speaking of ladies' porn, my wife used to love the vampire novels of Laurell Hamilton (who wrote a few TSR novels in her day) when they were hard boiled, violence filled stories with only sexual innuendo. My wife hasn't read them in the last few years because Hamilton made the jump to soft-core porn....each 1000 page book has the Mary-Sue heroine engaging in multi-partner sex with vampires, werewolves, whatevers, and the plot has been stripped down to maybe 50 pages that occurs between screwing (my wife's estimation, not mine).  She gave up on her a few books ago, but apparantly Hamilton's stuff is pretty popular.  I tried to skim through a few of her later novels (to see what my wife was bitching about) and I must say they are absolute crap of the highest order....you literally cannot last more than a few chapters before you are vomiting blood. The porn reminds me of Norman's Gor novels...it's not even exciting to read about. However, I read the first couple of her books a long time ago, and they were somewhat enjoyable.  I can't remember another fantasy/sf/horror writer that has successfully made the switch from that genre to basically soft core porn/romance.

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 1:14 am 
 

Badmike wrote:The porn reminds me of Norman's Gor novels...it's not even exciting to read about.


Ah, Norman.  I saw one of his books cheap a while back and picked it up to see if it was as bad as people claimed they were.  I think I made it 30 pages in before deciding that just about anything else would be more enjoyable than continuing. :)

  


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 11:58 am 
 

Top of the list: Brooks and shannara (this should be the given rather than Lord of the Rings)  :bom:

R.E. Feist and the riftwar saga

Early Dragonlance books

Infequently mentioned yet worthy to check out, Dragonworld by B. Preiss (1985)

and a minimum half dozen more

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:23 pm 
 

HexMapper wrote:Top of the list: Brooks and shannara (this should be the given rather than Lord of the Rings)  :bom:


I had fun playing in a D&D campaign based on Shannara, and I enjoyed the original trilogy back when it was released.

When I was traveling a lot in 2002, though, I read Ilse Witch and Antrax and I was very disappointed.  

Brooks just doesn't create characters that grab my attention.  And he's always violating the "show don't tell" rule of fiction.

What baffles me is why -- out of the thousands of Tolkien ripoffs that are submitted to agents and publishers -- did the Shannara books become so popular.  Likewise for Eragon.  I can't figure it out.

It's a matter of personal taste, of course, and you can't argue with either authors' success.

Keith


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:27 am 
 

I haven't read The Sword of Shannara in (I think) almost 30 years.

I do remember that Terry Brooks starts with the two brothers (Shae and another guy?) as humans...but they get shorter and shorter and shorter as he writes.  :lol:

Not a bad diversion.  Certainly nothing really noteworthy in my opinion.

Still...Brooks managed to write an entire fantasy novel without a lesbian/treehugger/wiccan theme, so that sets him above most of the stuff on the bookrack today.


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:36 am 
 

Just out of curiousity, anyone else enjoy binges in the pulp fiction ocassionally?  I myself am hooked on the noir/hard boiled novels of the 20s-50s, writers like Paul Cain, Raymond Chandler, Howard Browne, Cornell Woolrich, Charles Williams, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Dashiell Hammett, and others.  I've long noticed the many similarities between this sort of crime fiction and the fantasy fiction of the time...not surprising, since a lot of the stories share the same authors and same types of magazines (the pulps) during the same time of being created (early 20th century, post WWI).  Both also generally deal with the same archetypes (A Quest, A Beautiful Girl In Trouble, A Powerful Villain, A Treasure at the End, etc etc) in the same sort of formulaic device, except like any great literature a master can blow you away with the beauty of the writing (think Howard for fantasy, Chandler for detective fiction).  

Nothing I like more than pouring a stiff drink or a bottle of beer and settling back to read about a down and out Private dick who operates out of a shabby office on the West or East Coast, a bottle of cheap booze in his bottom drawer, taking a case involving a beautiful woman, dark bad guys, rich scumbags with dark secrets, and who despite talking and acting tough has a stubborn moral code and a toughness that allows him to see a case to it's final conclusion no matter what the cost or body count.  

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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:14 am 
 

I am curious if anybody else read the Neal Stephenson System of the World series.
Quicksilver, Confusion and System of the World.
Very nice late Baroque period piece with a host of characters from that era including Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz and cameos appearances by by Ben Franklin.
In some ways it could be considered a historical romance, but it is also a good old rip roaring adventure with elements of science and philosophy.
I like his slightly angled look at human nature and intrigue.


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:48 am 
 

jasonw1239 wrote:I am curious if anybody else read the Neal Stephenson System of the World series.
Quicksilver, Confusion and System of the World.
Very nice late Baroque period piece with a host of characters from that era including Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz and cameos appearances by by Ben Franklin.
In some ways it could be considered a historical romance, but it is also a good old rip roaring adventure with elements of science and philosophy.
I like his slightly angled look at human nature and intrigue.


I read Cryptonomicon and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Stephenson has a wicked sense of humor.  I then read Quicksilver, and I was impressed by his depth of research, the characters, and, again, the humor (I thought he did a good job of keeping the humor in the appropriate context).  I didn't read the next two in the series though, because Quicksilver seemed a little short on plot.

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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 12:21 pm 
 

You are correct the plot is quite thin, but the action and characterization is quite good and fun.
I had to keep reading to see what was going to happen to some of the major characters. :-)
Parts of the series are a thinly disguised travelogue from the middle east to India and then south-east Asia.
This parallels his journey several years ago when he wrote a massive article for Wired magazine about how FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe) was planned and implemented.
It started with the genesis of undersea cable laying in the 1800's with Professor William Thomson (Lord Kelvin).
His article continued on into modern day fiber optic hardware installations in places as varied as northern Egypt to the jungles of Asia and the unique people who see these projects through from start to finish.
I am sure that the size of his baroque cycle series ballooned in size in an attempt to make use of all of his research from that trip.  8O


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:18 pm 
 

jasonw1239 wrote:You are correct the plot is quite thin, but the action and characterization is quite good and fun.
I had to keep reading to see what was going to happen to some of the major characters. :-)
Parts of the series are a thinly disguised travelogue from the middle east to India and then south-east Asia.
This parallels his journey several years ago when he wrote a massive article for Wired magazine about how FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe) was planned and implemented.
It started with the genesis of undersea cable laying in the 1800's with Professor William Thomson (Lord Kelvin).
His article continued on into modern day fiber optic hardware installations in places as varied as northern Egypt to the jungles of Asia and the unique people who see these projects through from start to finish.
I am sure that the size of his baroque cycle series ballooned in size in an attempt to make use of all of his research from that trip.  8O


That's wild.  It'd be worth reading through the other two volumes just to see this parallel to FLAG.  That puts the novels in a completely different light.

Thanks,
Keith


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:01 pm 
 

zander wrote:I'm with you on the Thomas Covenant novels. I just finished the brand new one (Runes of the Earth) and the final series looks to be as good as the first two series were.

One of my personal favourites is Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion trilogy (Deed of Paksenarrion is the trade paperback containing all three) and the two follow-ups. The second book in the trilogy has a lot in common with module T1. She also does the best characterization of a paladin that I've ever read.

Sadly, you're right about many of the novels inspired by RPG's. With a few exceptions (TSR's Azure Bonds series comes to mind), most of them aren't worth the effort. I will say that some of WOTC's recent efforts (esp. "The Forsaken House") seem to be raising the bar.


The Jhereg series was inspired by a home brew D&D campaign (catch the rational for elves not having psionics) ...

Robert Jordan is about the finish the series off if he doesn't die first, though he has recovered and is working strong on the last novel, last I heard.


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