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Re: [Fantasy_Books] Re: Two new reads - one SF, one fantasy

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  • Peta Smith
    ... From: William C. Garthright To: Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:29 AM Subject: Re: [Fantasy_Books]
    Message 1 of 14 , May 12, 2008
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "William C. Garthright" <billg@...>
      To: <Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:29 AM
      Subject: Re: [Fantasy_Books] Re: Two new reads - one SF, one fantasy


      > So, as far as I'm concerned, Bujold needs to ask herself if she has
      > anything new to say before writing another book in ANY series. Actually,
      > all authors need to ask themselves that. Usually, an author continues a
      > successful series long past that point, and so I eventually just stop
      > reading them. I suspect it's largely a commercial decision to continue
      > to write a series, instead of starting a new one, but maybe not. Many
      > authors seem to have only one good story in them.

      I don't know Bill, I enjoy new and different stories but I also love
      immersing myself in old, familiar worlds. If any more Pern novels are
      written I will read them because I love the world and the dragons. I was
      quite happy to read through another five books (Mallorean) that Eddings
      wrote about Belgarath and his company because I enjoyed traipsing around
      with them on their quests and listening to their banter. I love Miles. I
      love the situations he gets himself into and out of. I'm sure he will have
      many more adventures. The authors obviously love their characters and worlds
      as well. It must be hard for them to let them go.

      Cheers, Peta
      >
    • William C. Garthright
      ... Well, that s true for me, too, Peta. That s why I prefer a series over standalone books, in fact. But it s not so much the world as the characters. I want
      Message 2 of 14 , May 13, 2008
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        > I don't know Bill, I enjoy new and different stories but I also love immersing myself in old, familiar worlds.


        Well, that's true for me, too, Peta. That's why I prefer a series over
        standalone books, in fact. But it's not so much the world as the
        characters. I want to know what happens to them. Still, when an author
        ceases to have anything new to say about the characters or the world, I
        just lose interest.


        > If any more Pern novels are written I will read them because I love the world and the dragons.


        I thought the first four Pern novels were great, but I could have done
        without any more. But that's just my opinion. We all have different
        preferences, I know.


        > I was quite happy to read through another five books (Mallorean) that Eddings wrote about Belgarath and his company because I enjoyed traipsing around with them on their quests and listening to their banter.


        Oddly enough, I didn't have a problem with that series, either. I really
        enjoyed the Belgariad, despite the fact that there wasn't anything
        really new about it (but certainly wonderful characters), and I didn't
        mind at all reading almost the exact same story in the second five
        volumes. But after that, I'd had enough.

        And Eddings apparently had only one good story in him. When I tried the
        next series, his characters all sounded the same as in the
        Belgariad/Mallorean. So I suppose that is a problem for authors. Do you
        stick with a great fantasy world that's getting a bit tired, or do you
        try for something different that might not work for yourself or your fans?


        > I love Miles. I love the situations he gets himself into and out of.


        Yes, so do I. But I was still disappointed with the last book,
        *Diplomatic Immunity*. Bujold just didn't seem to have anything new to
        say. And after *Mirror Dance*, *Memory*, and *A Civil Campaign*, I'd
        hate to see the series deteriorate.


        > The authors obviously love their characters and worlds as well. It must be hard for them to let them go.
        >


        Yes, I suppose you're right. I figured it was a commercial decision,
        pushed by the publishers. But it could be that the authors are just as
        fond of their characters as we are.

        Bill

        --
        The easiest thing of all is to deceive one's self; for what a man wishes
        he generally believes to be true. - Demosthenes
      • Peta Smith
        ... You have probably hit the nail here. Like you I enjoyed the Belgariad and Mallorean but could not get into the Elenium or Tamuli (or whatever). The
        Message 3 of 14 , May 13, 2008
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          >>
          > And Eddings apparently had only one good story in him. When I tried the
          > next series, his characters all sounded the same as in the
          > Belgariad/Mallorean. So I suppose that is a problem for authors. Do you
          > stick with a great fantasy world that's getting a bit tired, or do you
          > try for something different that might not work for yourself or your fans?
          >

          You have probably hit the nail here. Like you I enjoyed the Belgariad and
          Mallorean but could not get into the Elenium or Tamuli (or whatever). The
          characters in that were almost interchangeable Sephrenia/Polgara etc.
          Belgarath and Co could drop me a line to say "Come on we're heading off on
          another quest" and I'd be off like a shot. I like the familiar. I especially
          like prequals and following the adventures of minor characters.

          Peta
        • Mervi
          ... Yeah, ... There was Miles and Eketerin working as a team, though. But DI isn t any of my favourites, either. Then again Mirror Dance wasn t the first in
          Message 4 of 14 , May 14, 2008
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            --- In Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com, "William C. Garthright"
            <billg@...> wrote:

            > I don't know what to think about that. The last Miles book, *Diplomatic
            > Immunity*, was not up to the high standards of the previous books.
            Yeah,
            > Bujold probably couldn't write a terrible book if she tried, but she
            > didn't have anything new to say in that one.

            There was Miles and Eketerin working as a team, though. But DI isn't
            any of my favourites, either.

            Then again Mirror Dance wasn't the first in the series, either. It's
            eight and many would have said that she had already written a too long
            series by that time.

            > On the other hand, it might be interesting to have a book about the
            next
            > generation.

            I don't know. I'm a fan of Aral and Cordelia, and I like many of the
            supporting cast, such as Elli Quinn, Bel, and even Tung. I don't know
            if Ms. Bujold could make another compelling cast of characters where
            the "old friends" are in the sidelines.

            Or maybe a book about Ivan, where he gets away from Miles
            > and finally grows up?

            This is something I'd be interested in seeing. Unfortunately, so are
            many others on the Bujold mailing list and Ms. Bujold has made it a
            rule that she doesn't use anything from the mailing list. Alas!

            And we never did hear what happened when Miles and
            > the Dendarii Mercenaries rescued that passenger ship from the pirates.
            > Perhaps she'll go back to a younger Miles and show us that (though I
            > don't know what more she'd have to say about that part of his life).

            I think that she's said often that she doesn't write prequels because
            they constrain her too much. So, that's not likely. Quite a few people
            would also like to see tales from the war between Barrayar and
            Cetaganda or from the Time of Isolation but that's also unlikely.

            She's written a couple of fantasy series,
            > one extremely successful and one less so (IMO), in addition to a fun
            > standalone years ago (*The Spirit Ring*).

            I belive though that the Sharing Knife is out-selling Chalion. Which
            is understandable because the romance reading crowd is much larger.

            >She needs to try something
            > different now. And I DON'T mean a romance! :-)

            Unfortunately for us who don't care for romance, romance seems to be
            one of the major themes for her. Even the later Miles books had quite
            lot of romance (Komarr, Civil Campaign) and the later fantasy books
            even more. In fact, from Paladin of Souls onwards all of the books
            have had a central romance. And these are books that she hasn't been
            contracted to write so she's been free to write what she wants. I
            think that the only thing that's her stopping from writing pure
            romance is the constricting formulas that so many romance readers are
            used to and demand from their books.

            > I really enjoy books where an honorable, experienced man (usually, but
            > not always) teaches a bunch of youngsters (not always especially young,
            > either) by his example and careful training.

            Sure, I'd like that. What I object to is the huuuuuge age and maturity
            difference in the romance. Essentially, Fawn is a child compared to
            Dag so the relationship feels quite a bit like insest to me even
            though they aren't related. I also loathed everyone of Fawn's family
            for the way they treated her and intensly dislike the idea of ever
            seeing anyone of them again, let alone having one there for the entire
            book and apparently trying to romance some poor, unfortunate girl into
            an abusive relationship.

            There has been some interesting speculation about why fantasy readers
            disliked the Sharing Knife series and why some romance readers have
            thought that the books had too little romance in them. Some of it can
            be seen in Ms. Bujold's posts in the Eos blog.

            Mervi
          • William C. Garthright
            ... Quite true. And the previous volume, *Barrayar*, wasn t one of my favorites, either (it s odd that it won the Hugo Award, when *Memory* didn t). It wasn t
            Message 5 of 14 , May 16, 2008
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              > Then again Mirror Dance wasn't the first in the series, either. It's eight and many would have said that she had already written a too long series by that time.
              >


              Quite true. And the previous volume, *Barrayar*, wasn't one of my
              favorites, either (it's odd that it won the Hugo Award, when *Memory*
              didn't). It wasn't bad, but it just sort of filled in the story. And
              *The Vor Game*, which was immediately previous to that (and another Hugo
              Award winner), was somewhat similar. Oh, I enjoyed both books, but with
              any normal author, they might have indicated the start of a slow
              downward trend of the series.

              So I definitely take your point, Mervi. The next volume, *Mirror Dance*,
              was great, *Cetaganda* was lots of fun, and *Memory* was probably my
              all-time favorite (though I really enjoyed *A Civil Campaign*, it was
              basically a romantic comedy, rather different from the others in the
              series). Bujold has surprised me before, so she may surprise me again.
              But I have to think that even she must run out of new things to say
              about that universe and those characters, eventually.


              > I don't know. I'm a fan of Aral and Cordelia, and I like many of the supporting cast, such as Elli Quinn, Bel, and even Tung. I don't know if Ms. Bujold could make another compelling cast of characters where the "old friends" are in the sidelines.
              >


              Well, she did it with *The Curse of Chalion* and its sequel. There
              aren't as many supporting characters, but that's just because that
              series isn't nearly as long (and the third book was set in a different
              location on the planet). I'm less impressed with the *The Sharing
              Knife*, but I have to admit that she hasn't lost her knack of creating
              compelling characters. Not at all.

              I'd be more concerned that she could come up with another interesting
              setting. There's nothing unique about Barrayar, of course, but it's
              interesting, especially given the particular problems Miles has faced.
              Chalion really IS unique, at least in the way the gods function. But
              when you invent a new universe, you must create something, um,...
              creative (as well as fresh characters with which to populate it, of
              course). I have no doubt that Bujold can create new characters who are
              compelling, since she's done that so many times, but the setting might
              be a question mark.


              > Ms. Bujold has made it a rule that she doesn't use anything from the mailing list. Alas!
              >


              So don't suggest anything you'd actually like to see? :-)


              >> And we never did hear what happened when Miles and the Dendarii Mercenaries rescued that passenger ship from the pirates.
              >>
              >
              > I think that she's said often that she doesn't write prequels because they constrain her too much.


              This wouldn't be a prequel, exactly. It would just be a story out of
              chronological order. And she's done that before - with, for example,
              *Barrayar* and *Cetaganda*. But as I say, I don't know what she could
              say about this part of Miles' career that hasn't been said before. And
              any new characters would need to disappear, since they haven't shown up
              since then. So I do know what you mean about her being constrained too much.


              > Unfortunately for us who don't care for romance, romance seems to be one of the major themes for her.


              I *like* romance, as a science fiction and fantasy theme. That's one of
              the reasons I like Bujold. Romance is part of good characterization. If
              you care about fictional characters, romance is often quite important.
              And since I prefer character-based fiction, I have no problem with
              romance in any book. But it must be intelligent romance (as intelligent
              as romance ever is, anyway), and I don't want to read a pure romance,
              even if it's placed in a fantasy setting.

              *A Civil Campaign* was basically a romantic comedy, but I thought it was
              superb. Of course, I already knew (almost) all of the characters, and I
              cared what happened to them. And the humor was great! *Paladin of Souls*
              appeared to be a stereotypical romance novel, when the heroine was
              rescued and swept up onto the handsome hero's horse. But as it turned
              out - not to give away any secrets - things were not quite as they
              seemed (to say the least). Actually, I thought this was Bujold's way of
              poking fun at romance novels (though, of course, there was plenty of
              romance in the book).

              I would be very disappointed if Bujold started writing pure romances, or
              even continued as she has recently, with *The Sharing Knife*. She's
              better than that. But I have no problem with romance being ONE of the
              major themes in her books.


              > What I object to is the huuuuuge age and maturity difference in the romance.


              Yes, that was my problem with *The Sharing Knife*, too. And, in fact,
              the teenage girl was especially vulnerable when they met. I don't doubt
              that a man more than three times her age would find her attractive (I'm
              about Dag's age, and young women still look as good as ever), but
              there's a big difference between that sort of attraction and actually
              forming a relationship. Honorable men don't do that sort of thing (and
              yes, it's very easy to tell yourself that it's 'different' this time,...
              but it's not). In fact, in a case like that, the man should try very
              hard not to even notice the teenager's sex appeal.

              And I didn't understand why this was even necessary. Is this a common
              occurrence in romance novels, to have a 40-year difference in ages? *The
              Sharing Knife* could have been just as good with little or no age
              difference between them. You'd still have the clash of cultures, after
              all. Their marriage would still not be accepted by their own people, on
              either side.

              Kat reminded me of the age difference in *The Curse of Chalion*, but
              that didn't bother me at all. For one thing, the age difference wasn't
              nearly that great, not even close. Caz felt a lot older than he really
              was, due to the experiences he'd encountered. For another, he fought the
              attraction for the entire book. It was really the young woman who
              pursued him and, you might say, caught him at a particularly vulnerable
              moment (with a sword sticking completely through him!). If you know
              you're going to die soon, you might be more willing to admit your
              feelings. There was no way I could blame Caz for any of that.

              And it's not to say that May-December romances don't work, sometimes.
              There are biological, as well as cultural, reasons for a romantic
              attachment between young girls and older men. But most of the time, they
              are not marriages between equals. In some cultures, that's OK, but not
              in mine. The incredible age difference in *The Sharing Knife* was too
              close to child abuse for me. It wasn't child abuse, not exactly, but it
              was close enough to make me uncomfortable.

              Bill

              --
              There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark
              Ages. - Ruth Hurmence Green
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