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[May. 28th, 2006|11:24 pm]
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.

[User Picture]From: ann1962
2006-05-29 11:58 am (UTC)
I just starting reading Connie Willis' To Say Nothing Of The Dog. It is funny with a interesting premise. I couldn't find the story KDS recc'ed by her, but found this one instead. So far, so good.

I also started The Historian, but meh.
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[User Picture]From: randomways
2006-05-29 05:39 pm (UTC)
It looks interesting in the review. I'm a little leery about the "comedy of manners" aspect -- seems like everybody and their little dog too is doing that nowadays -- but I'm willing to look past these things for a good story, which usually trumps any gimmick.
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[User Picture]From: oceloty
2006-06-05 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've really enjoyed most of Connie Willis' stuff. I actually like Three Men and a Boat and I think To Say Nothing of the Dog is (a) a nice tribute, (b) actually funny, (c) actually a good story, too. But tastes vary, and all that. I think it's a comedy of manners in Wodehouse-Blandings sense rather than the Wodehouse-Jeeves sense, if that makes any ... sense. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy. I'd be interested to see if you find it funny.

Bellweather I don't hear much about, but it is the most ridiculously accurate portrayal of academic research I have ever read. Well, not actually accurate, except in its portrayal of the ridiculousness and futility and the frustration and what can you do but laugh and go to lunch? My entire lab (at least, the native English readers) passed the book around for weeks like it was some crack pipe our boss might discover, confisticate, and send us to jail for.

Of her serious stuff, can I recommend Fire Watch and Doomsday Book? She certainly likes to recycle her themes, but it's to good effect in these two.
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