Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels
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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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Post Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:46 am 
 

Well, after reading some of the comments here I decided to order (from Amazon) The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:29 am 
 

Marlith wrote:Speaking of hard to find favorites...as well as more than their share of sex and violence...John Normans Gor series.


Whatever happened to the Gor series?  I remember seeing it in bookstores until about, oh, ten years or so ago and haven't seen it since.

  


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:35 am 
 

One other thought . . . I see the list of authors are sci-fi, fantasy, etc.  What about someone like Tom Clancy?

  

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:13 am 
 

sleepyCO wrote:
Whatever happened to the Gor series?  I remember seeing it in bookstores until about, oh, ten years or so ago and haven't seen it since.


They are mostly out of print, and fairly rare, so they are usually snatched up when available to be offered for fairly ridiculous prices on Ebay (do a search for, oh, Magicians of Gor to see why..!).  While I think the majority of the series is badly written, unexciting, boring soft core porn with little or no literary value , they are worth a pretty penny to Gor enthusiasts, so I do pick them up when I find them in the used bookstores.

Anyone who has a bit of curiousity, read the first three books, and THAT"S IT.  They are fairly functional as fantasy/sf literature, and avoid a lot of the excesses further on.  The series take a ridiculous slide into crap, mainly consisting of pages and pages of bad-ass male poseurs dominating woman who really deep down want nothing more to be dominated, and very little plot of interest anywhere to be seen. The "sex" is silly and wouldn't excite a 14 year old boy with raging hormones.  In other words, crap.  If I had to spend eternity in a room with only the complete Gor series or the complete works of Rose Estes to read, I would have to say to myself "Well, you haven't ACTUALLY read any of the Estes books...."

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:16 am 
 

sleepyCO wrote:One other thought . . . I see the list of authors are sci-fi, fantasy, etc.  What about someone like Tom Clancy?


Probably, technically, you might call his stuff very light SF, or speculative, but then again war/thriller is probably the most logical territory.

BTW, is it me, or is Clancy just not a very good writer?  I think he has a very awkward style and turn of phrase, and lost interest in his style after a few of the books.  His plots and characters are ok, but the writing style is what puts me off. Of course, I feel the same way about Grisham (acutally, I lie, I think Grisham is almost unreadable), and they have sold a few billion books between themselves, so what do I know.....

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:10 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
Gor -- The "sex" is silly and wouldn't excite a 14 year old boy with raging hormones.

Mike B.


Well, I have to differ with you there.  I know of at least one teenager who thought it was pretty interesting.

But even a much younger version of myself eventually realized that Norman wasn't offering anything except sadism and sexual brutality disguised as a story.  It got boring after a while and downright sickening a little while after that.

The first five books at least have some story elements in amongst all the hatred of women and a truly demented worldview.  Assassin of Gor is a good read...if one can stand wading through all of the retarded sexuality in the book.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:11 am 
 

IttyBitty wrote:Well, after reading some of the comments here I decided to order (from Amazon) The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.


Solomon Kane was an interesting character...too bad REH did not develop him any more than he did.

There is a Solomon Kane movie in the works.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:30 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
BTW, is it me, or is Clancy just not a very good writer?  I think he has a very awkward style and turn of phrase, and lost interest in his style after a few of the books.

Mike B.


It's not just you.  However, folks in my line of work (aerospace) love his novels.  Of course, I'm surrounded by people like Milton from Office Space.

I have trouble reading Ursula K. LeGuin for the same reason: awkward prose.  I struggle to even get through a short piece, like one of the EarthSea books.  And I never could figure out what made "Buffalo Gals" a classic.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:40 am 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:
It's not just you.  However, folks in my line of work (aerospace) love his novels.  Of course, I'm surrounded by people like Milton from Office Space.

I have trouble reading Ursula K. LeGuin for the same reason: awkward prose.  I struggle to even get through a short piece, like one of the EarthSea books.  And I never could figure out what made "Buffalo Gals" a classic.

Keith


That makes sense, as technically Clancy's novels are very well written. Literature wise, they are poo-poo.  One of the very few authors who, IMO, have better movies made out of their books than the books themselves (except for the excreable Sum of All Fears, which suffered not only having Ben I-Can't-Act in the title role, but bowed down to the politically correct leftist/liberal Hollywood types and changed the muslim terrorists to, that's right, WHITE neo-facists).

I still don't get Grisham.  The few books by him I've picked up I can't even finish.  And IMO the movies aren't even that great.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:47 am 
 

Skip The Hunt for Red October and read Red Storm Rising.

After that, Patriot Games is silly but fun.  

Once you have read two Clancy books you have almost no need to read another.  Like a lot of techno-thriller writers, Clancy runs out of material eventually.

There is one guy (author of Team Yankee)....the last book of his I read dealt with a clash between the US and Mexico.  Next, I think he's going to write about armored combat in Fiji.

(I see that my post count is approaching 3000...which means that I have only a short time to be a "sage" and must soon become "long-winded.   Alas.   :x   I'm thinking of trying to join some kind of valuation board in order to avoid that tag.)


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:02 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
Well, I have to differ with you there.  I know of at least one teenager who thought it was pretty interesting.


I think I just had access to better porn at that age.... :wink:

But even a much younger version of myself eventually realized that Norman wasn't offering anything except sadism and sexual brutality disguised as a story.  It got boring after a while and downright sickening a little while after that.


True story:  I've been selling Norman/Gor novels for years, and the vast majority (I'd say at least 80 percent) of the buyers are women.  I have theories...either they are buying them to destroy them, they are curious about being dominated/disciplined, a male friend told them "These books are great!", or women on the whole have very, very bad taste in literature.  Pick your favorite.  

The first five books at least have some story elements in amongst all the hatred of women and a truly demented worldview.  Assassin of Gor is a good read...if one can stand wading through all of the retarded sexuality in the book.


I've always had the theory that the Gor novels are a put on (the writer is a professor of philosophy in New York) because no one could be that much of a tool, plus he made a ridiculous amount of money (they sold millions) spouting his male superiority/female inferiority but loving it crap....he did it for the money.  When I was younger, at parties we used to get drunk and read passages aloud, trying to get the biggest laugh. Some of his stuff is unintentionally hilarious, but in the end it's just boring drivel.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:04 pm 
 

You must have seen the Houseplants of Gor parody by now then.  (If not, I think it's linked on the bottom of the Wikipedia Gor article.)

  

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:46 pm 
 

g026r wrote:You must have seen the Houseplants of Gor parody by now then.  (If not, I think it's linked on the bottom of the Wikipedia Gor article.)


I also enjoyed the Norman wikipedia parody at Uncyclopedia (a pretty funny parody of wikipedia):

http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/John_Norman

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Post Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:04 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
I've always had the theory that the Gor novels are a put on (the writer is a professor of philosophy in New York) because no one could be that much of a tool, plus he made a ridiculous amount of money (they sold millions) spouting his male superiority/female inferiority but loving it crap....he did it for the money.  When I was younger, at parties we used to get drunk and read passages aloud, trying to get the biggest laugh. Some of his stuff is unintentionally hilarious, but in the end it's just boring drivel.

Mike b.


The only TSR employee I ever knew who liked the Gor novels was female.

I had to read some as a screener for a book store.  That was enough, I quit.

Did he ever resolve the invasion fleet of steel hulled ships from outerspace theme?  

Arghhh, I lost some more brain cells remembering that. ;)


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