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Fantasy fiction 101

 
 
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Sep, 2010 07:50 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:



The Colour of Magic- Terry Prachett
A Voyage to Acturus - David Lindsay
The Once & future King - T H White

I've avoided any trilogies, or inter-connected novels at this stage. So the Ring trilogy will be later, if all goes well.
I'll also be looking for audio books of any of these & others you've recommended.


You can't possibly go wrong with any of those three. If you're avoiding trilogies or other serializations, avoid Dune for the time being. It's a fine read but just the first book alone will leave you wondering what happens next.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:55 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
Go for it, Setanta. Smile
There appears to be quite a bit of over-lap between the two.


Yes, i'd say there is. The Once and Future King would qualify as fantasy which is not science fiction. (The title comes from Thomas Mallory's Mort d'Arthur--first printed by Caxton in 1485, it's the first "best seller" printed in English. Mallory states the the inscription on Arthur's tomb was Hic iacet Arturus, Rex quandum, Rexque futurus--Here lies Arthur, once and guture King.) In the King Arthur line, there are just a heap of books, many of which are multi-volume sets, and many of which, perhaps most of which are not worth the paper they are printed on.

The Mists of Avalon is an excellent example of this genre, though. It's by Marion Zimmer Bradley, a doyenne of the fantasy genre. A rather palid television miniseries was made from the book.

One fantasy series of novels and short stories which straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy is the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. She is also one of the giants of fantasy literature, and has written some books with Marion Zimmer Bradley, and with other fantasy fiction, female authors. The Dragonriders series is just enormous, literally dozens of novels and short stoies, and her son, Todd McCaffrey has continued the series in this centurry. Look her up to get a list of all the novels and short stories.

There is a game series of which you may have heard called Dungeons and Dragons. About the most popular setting for these games is Faerûn, a mythical planet populated by creatures which occur in D & D, greatly inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien (orcs and hobbits in addition to various forms of elves, gnomes, goblins, etc.--there are humanoid races, being humans, elves and half-elves [a human-elf crossbreed], dwarves and giants; then there aer goblinoid races, beign orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, ogres, etc.--dark elves and dark dwarves represent just more variations on the basic themes).

These "Forgotten Realms" games have inspired a series of novels, of which there are literally dozens. Both the games and the novles are very popular.

0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 08:46 am
@engineer,
There are lots of disaster novels in science fiction; one of the best is Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle which is about a comet hitting the Earth, and the aftermath. Earth Abides by George R. Stewart is also very good.

Quote:
The book earned much praise from James Sallis, writing in the Boston Globe:

This is a book, mind you, that I'd place not only among the greatest science fiction but among our very best novels. Each time I read it, I'm profoundly affected, affected in a way only the greatest art — Ulysses, Matisse or Beethoven symphonies, say — affects me. Epic in sweep, centering on the person of Isherwood Williams, Earth Abides proves a kind of antihistory, relating the story of humankind backwards, from ever-more-abstract civilization to stone-age primitivism. Everything passes — everything. Writers' reputations. The ripe experience of a book in which we find ourselves immersed. Star systems, worlds, states, individual lives. Humankind. Few of us get to read our own eulogies, but here is mankind's. Making Earth Abides a novel for which words like elegiac and transcendent come easily to mind, a novel bearing, in critic Adam-Troy Castro's words, "a great dark beauty."[4]


First contact novels are another popular theme. I've really enjoyed The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle as well as Footfall by the same authors.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic post-apocalyptic novel by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is excellent (WWII and modern-day thrillers intertwined), as is Anathem by the same author.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:17 am
@DrewDad,
I loved Lucifer's Hammer and also recommend it. It also works if you are not really into Sci-Fi because other than the comet part, it is a character driven disaster story. If you like first contact fiction, The Engines of God by McDevitt is excellent (the first of a six book series, so you are forewarned). I like McDevitt because his books really reflect the size of space and the difficulty of exploring something so vast as well as the scope of time. Canticle is an all-time Sci-Fi classic, but I wouldn't read it as an introduction to the genre. Another first contact classic is the Foreigner series by C. J. Cherryh, especially noteworthy for how the fundamental biological differences between species continually create misunderstandings that complicate the plot. The aliens looks similar to humans, but are fundamentally different as opposed to aliens that look different but are fundamentally similar.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:19 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic post-apocalyptic novel by Walter M. Miller, Jr.


I just read that recently for the first time, although i'd heard of it long ago. I was not that favorably impressed. I thought the post apocalyptic scenario was rather obvious, and that the author really didn't understand, or was willing to ignore the effects of fallout. I'd not have expected him to understand nuclear winter, as the concept wasn't understood in speculative science at the time--but he writes as though fall-out had been no big deal. I also felt that he wasted the dramatic, literary possibilities of the discovery of Leibowitz's papers.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:39 am
@engineer,
Quote:
Hyperion by Dan Simmons is an outstanding Sci Fi novel, but it will definitely mess with your mind. The story of the person aging backwards and how her parents handled it still brings tears to my eyes. Another Hugo winner.


Did you finish the whole 4-book series? I hope so!

My new favorite Sci-Fi author is Peter F. Hamilton; His Pandora's Star is fantastic, along with the sequels to it, and the Night's Dawn trilogy (sold as 6 books in America) was also good though a little Deus Ex at the end.

Cycloptichorn
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:46 am
@Setanta,
I don't think that the point of the novel was to document the effects of radiation....

But I agree with Engineer that it might not be the best introduction to the genre.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:49 am
@Cycloptichorn,
I'm hesitant to recommend Heinlein anymore, because his treatment of women is pretty awful at times.

But Double Star and Stranger in a Strange Land are both worth reading.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:55 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:

I'm hesitant to recommend Heinlein anymore, because his treatment of women is pretty awful at times.

But Double Star and Stranger in a Strange Land are both worth reading.


Sure, as well as Starship Troopers.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:50 am
If you want the full Heinlein treatment, read Farnham's Freehold. It has not just his typical sexism, but "agism", elitism and racism as well. His opinions were truly disgusting. He's a great story teller, but i find i can get through one of his novels pretty damned quickly by reading about half or less of the text. The patented Heinlein moral screeds can not only be passed over unread, but the stories are far more enjoyable if one does.
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:54 am
@Setanta,
IMO, Farnham's Freehold is a pretty weak offering by H.

Starship Troopers is another that I think is overrated. The story and action are OK, but nearly 1/2 the book is devoted to lectures about military virtues. It has to be his preachiest book.

DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:59 am
@DrewDad,
Just remembered the name of one of my favorite SF books of all time. Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams.

Quote:
The novel describes the Logarchy, a technologically advanced human society which has spread across half the galaxy. It involves a rigid hierarchy of social classes, based on examinations. The supreme class, the "Aristoi," are given the ultimate responsibility: that of managing nanotechnology.


And if you like your fantasy dark and dangerous, try A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.

Being adapted to the small screen by HBO.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:06 pm
@DrewDad,
Well, it would would be hard to choose his preachiest book, but you may be right. I read ST when i was an adolescnt, as well as SSL and several others. Then, when i was in my early 30s, i read them again, and was appalled. I think Heinlein is most popular with young men. I've known young men who just idolize Lazarus Long.

I've said before that i'll forgive an author a great deal if they tell a good story. Heinlein qualifies as a good story teller, with the added benefit that you can get through one of his books so quickly by skipping over the screeds.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:06 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

Quote:
Hyperion by Dan Simmons is an outstanding Sci Fi novel, but it will definitely mess with your mind. The story of the person aging backwards and how her parents handled it still brings tears to my eyes. Another Hugo winner.


Did you finish the whole 4-book series? I hope so!

Of course! Great all the way through.

Cycloptichorn wrote:

My new favorite Sci-Fi author is Peter F. Hamilton; His Pandora's Star is fantastic, along with the sequels to it, and the Night's Dawn trilogy (sold as 6 books in America) was also good though a little Deus Ex at the end.

Loved both series. He's got another out "Dreaming Void" that I haven't started yet, but he has never disappointed.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:08 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:


Loved both series. He's got another out "Dreaming Void" that I haven't started yet, but he has never disappointed.


The Dreaming Void series is actually a sequel to the Pandora's Star books! A very good one.

Did you read his Fallen Dragon?

Cycloptichorn
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:25 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Yes, one of his best and a great intro for those not into multiple book series.

I have another fantasy recommendation since we are a little short there. Try L. E. Modesitt's Spellsong Cycle about a classical singer trying to make ends meet who is suddenly pulled into a male dominated world where songs have magical power. His Recluse novels are also fantastic and deal with social injustice, politics and power while telling a really good tale. If I had to pick one (actually two since there is a sequel), I would start with Magi'i of Cyador. It can be read without being familiar with his other works.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:38 pm
Speaking of fantasy vs. science fiction... have you read the Harry Potter series, msolga? I was resistant for a long time, and then decided to wait until sozlet was old enough to read it along with me. That just happened (I just finished, she's on the sixth book) and it was much, much better than I expected.

It's definitely written for young readers but there is a lot about it that's very satisfying.

In fact, finishing it was very close to the experience of finishing "A Suitable Boy." (!) I still prefer the latter, but there were definitely similarities throughout.

(If you've already read Harry Potter, disregard of course!)
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:46 pm
@sozobe,
how old is sozlet, she (and you) might enjoy a book i recommended earlier Un Lun Dun, the protagonist is a twelve year old girl, a very enjoyable book
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:53 pm
@djjd62,
Cool. She's nine now but usually reads books that are meant for older kids. (As long as the content isn't too mature.) I'll take a look at it, thanks!
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:58 pm
@sozobe,
it's set in a London (England) that exists in another dimension from the real London, there's an environmental message of sorts

i'm kind of hoping the author might expand the universe, he makes reference to other cities in the book, one i remember is Parisn't
0 Replies
 
 

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