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Also, in addition to my brief tale of conversational gaffes and… - Dreamtigers and other fantastical beasts [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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[May. 28th, 2006|11:24 pm]
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Also, in addition to my brief tale of conversational gaffes and soul-sucking awkwardness in my last post, I meant to direct a question to my f-list:

On the heels of KdS's analysis of spec-fic, I've been thinking about my on-going struggle to update my personal canon of sci-fi and fantasy. My dilemma has been to avoid the "pulp" stuff (if, while browsing the bookstore, I have to read one more title with some variation of the words "mage," "dragon," "magic/magick/majick/majoke," etc, often with a colorful picture of what is obviously an elf on the cover, I swear I will start endorsing censorship.) Searching on-line doesn't help much -- most of what I see is either 1) stuff that doesn't remotely interest me (Lackey, Pierce, Gaiman, Salvatore, anime/comics, et cetera) because they seem to be too "pop fic," if that makes sense, or 2) stuff seems a bit too overtly oriented in the socio-political. I find the latter extremely distracting because most writers I've seen of late have no sense of subtlety, so the message comes to dominate the medium. I don't necessarily disagree with the message, but I don't need to have it glaring angrily at me while I'm trying to relax and enjoy a book.

I'm fond of old-school stuff -- the Tolkiens and the Liebers and the Heinleins and the Bears and the Nivens and Besters and the Le Guins and the Golden/Silver Age fiction -- but I've pretty much run through those in terms of interest...I'm ready to join the 21st century and find out who the new grandmasters of good old-fashioned sci-fi and fantasy are. It shames me to say so, but the last stuff to really fascinate me were Stephen Donaldson's fantasy and sci-fi (even if he did have a wee problem with over-writing and over-emoting) and William Gibson's stuff (even if his works other than Neuromancer are rather formulaic.) But those date from the late 70's, early to mid 80's. At least their original stuff does, though Donaldson did some excellent sci-fi stuff in the 90's and Gibson has been writing solidly, but not spectacularly, since the apex he reached with Neuromancer.

I'd ask around for recs, but I have no idea if anyone else has the same tastes as me. And reading titles in the bookstore just depresses me no end because all I can think about is how, time was, I could immediately tell you whether a given book or series (I like series) was a fun read. The Books of Swords, the Robot series, Heinlein's "total psychotic pontificating sex-fiend nutjob" period from Stranger until his death, even the Moorcock stuff. Nowadays, though....

p.s. I've now read 15 pages of "The Da Vinci Code" in 5 days. I hate it more than even Snacky does.
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[User Picture]From: ginsu
2006-09-09 05:20 am (UTC)
I can't believe nobody has recommended George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series in this post. It's obviously the best epic fantasy in many, many years.

A few notable innovations:

• No teen male orphan hero
• No hero, in fact, at all
• No elves
• No evil force threatening the kingdoms of Men from the East
• Damn little magic of any kind
• Sick-fuck bad guys that somehow turn out to be well-rounded characters

Four long books in, it's a fairly black tale -- medieval English history made even more fascinating, played out on an island the size of a continent. No cream, no sugar. Lots of back-room politics. Don't get too attached to the characters and don't expect Martin to bring the cozy. The man has no cozy in him.

Don't bother with the prologue of the first book, either; my guess is his publishers forced him to tack it on due to an insufficient cheese element in the text proper.
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