Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels
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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)

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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.

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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.

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

Beyondthebreach wrote:
What an interesting choice.  You know, I decided to go out and buy this book after reading a review of it in a Dragon magazine.  Usually, fantasy books that have a "humorous" theme turn me off, but this was quite a witty and enjoyable read.  

With A Single Spell was pretty good too. .  If I remember correctly. . . it has probably been 15 years since I read either of them.


That series continues, the last two were published on the internet.

Neat stuff.


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:07 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
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.

Mike B.


But, her agent picked up Jim Butcher, whose Dresden files was on SF and is a great series (I haven't seen the TV show).  The agent and Butcher have parted ...


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:18 pm 
 

Badmike wrote: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.  

Mike B.


Don't forget Fredric Brown's mystery stories.  They're often overlooked, yet a lot of fun to read.

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Post Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:23 pm 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:
Don't forget Fredric Brown's mystery stories.  They're often overlooked, yet a lot of fun to read.

Keith


Keith;

Great minds, etc.  I have everyone of Brown's mystery stories, including all the really hard to find stuff. I wouldn't exactly call most of his stuff hard boiled, but most of it is quite good, and a lot of his stories have little twists at the end.  My two favorites are probably Night of the Jabbarwock and The Screaming Mimi, both of which feature pretty good suprising twists.

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:44 am 
 

I don't read much fantasy pulp fiction, but do enjoy old Scifi Magazines from the 50s and 60s.

Hope I am not intruding on a conversation here, but I have a pulp related question. I may have mentioned this before, but I used to read a fair amount of fantasy, but found the genre extremely limited. It is the same story over and over. Ordinary person becomes herop, goes on adventure etc. I may try that Fantasy Masterworks series - that is certain to have some good titles I've missed.

Anyway, back to the question:

Has anyone read any of these dime a dozen, D&D fantasy novels? Are they any good? Or an easy way for bad writers to sell a lot of books? It seems to be the modern day fantasy-pulp? Have these boosted or harmed the genre?

I tend to buy books based on positive critical reviews. And critical reviewers obviously don't even read those D&D novels.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:21 am 
 

HermitFromPluto wrote:I don't read much fantasy pulp fiction, but do enjoy old Scifi Magazines from the 50s and 60s.

Hope I am not intruding on a conversation here, but I have a pulp related question. I may have mentioned this before, but I used to read a fair amount of fantasy, but found the genre extremely limited. It is the same story over and over. Ordinary person becomes herop, goes on adventure etc. I may try that Fantasy Masterworks series - that is certain to have some good titles I've missed.

Anyway, back to the question:

Has anyone read any of these dime a dozen, D&D fantasy novels? Are they any good? Or an easy way for bad writers to sell a lot of books? It seems to be the modern day fantasy-pulp? Have these boosted or harmed the genre?

I tend to buy books based on positive critical reviews. And critical reviewers obviously don't even read those D&D novels.


Remember also there are lot a good fantasy books out there that might not be positively reviewed....most reviewers are ina  hunt to find the "next big thing" and tend to look down their nose at anything not epic in tone.  There are a lot of little gems here and there.

The AD&D novels are uniformly...average, IMO.  There are a few ok ones, maybe the Azure Bonds series, Drow series, etc. I haven't read much beyond the few initial series released.  Basically, if you enjoy stories set in the Forgotten Realms using strict AD&D rules you might like them.

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:40 am 
 

I would tend to agree with you on that one Badmike.
There are older works of fantasy that fall into that situation like The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs.
It is a quirky little novel that is so far outside of the ordinary that I find myself reading it again every few years just because I read something else reminds me of it.


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:27 am 
 

A great source for reviews of all fantasy literature -- novels and short story collections -- is the annual Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology edited by Ellen Datlow (horror), and Kelly Link & Gavin Grant (fantasy).

(Terri Windling edited the fantasy section up until 2-3 years ago.)

The editors' long introduction reviews novels organized by sub-genre, such as swords & sorcery (which I think they call "Imaginary World" novels).

Even if you don't buy the anthology it's worth sitting down and reading their reviews to get a good feel for what came out during the previous year.  

Any good bookstore (B&N, Borders, etc) will have it in stock.  The anthology is in its 20th year and I highly recommend it.

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