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23019Re: Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

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  • Westermeyer GS11 Paul W
    Mar 22, 2012
      > Posted by: "James Curcio" jamescurcio@... agent139
      > Date: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:54 am ((PDT))
      > Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the
      > D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a
      > real decline since Hasbro took over.)

      Well, I did mention Brook's books. But all his characters are really humans. Mutated humans, but humans. The elves are different, in theory, but they are treated no differently than the various human and human-mutant groups. Their lifespans, language, even their culture is essentially the same.

      The AD&D books are different in this regard, and I too prefer the earlier ones. Some writers handle elves very well, Elaine Cunningham for example, and I treasure those novels. But most AD&D novels still seem to be focused on humans, and the non-humans are exotic oddities.

      > There are a ton of Tolkien
      > knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either.
      > They are what they are.)

      My point is, people say this in many surveys of fantasy literature or book reviews but I don't believe it is true. There is Brook's first book, and Dennis McKiernan's early Mithgar books but really that is it. Beyond that, people seem to call any fantasy novel a Tolkien pastiche even when all it might have in common with LOTR is a pseudo-medieval setting and magic. By that measure Howard's Conan is a Tolkien pastiche - despite coming first!

      I actually hope in this learned group folks will prove me wrong. I'd love to read some actual Tolkien imitators. :)

      > Posted by: "Croft, Janet B." jbcroft@... jbcroft73019
      > Date: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:57 am ((PDT))
      > If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals
      > to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

      Isn't his work broad parody/comedy? I've had his work recommended to me often, but I'm just not a fan of parody/comedy in literature, I prefer that in theater or film.

      > The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin
      > The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being
      > “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.

      A perfect example of people calling something 'Tolkienesque' when it actually has almost nothing to do with Tolkien. :(

      > Posted by: "John Davis" john@... mcxg46
      > Date: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:33 am ((PDT))
      > Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got my
      > first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so many
      > books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from Tolkien
      > as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic, and the
      > mythic struggle between good and evil personified in characters, Game
      > of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval history into a
      > fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood, and no cause
      > worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds away -
      > literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales (such as
      > Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour. I like
      > both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.
      > Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or
      > other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of the
      > Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people see a
      > fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be Tolkienesque'
      > without looking deeper?

      All very true, IMO. I couldn't finish the first novel, because I just couldn't really care about the characters. I tried to get into the TV series, hoping it might be more palatable in TV form and no dice their either. It is well acted and well done, and I dare say the novels are well written, just not to my taste. The author has said it is modeled on the War of the Roses, I think that is an accurate comparison.

      > Posted by: "WendellWag@..." WendellWag@... wendell_wagner
      > Date: Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:57 pm ((PDT))
      > Thanks to all those who replied. I should have said that I was
      > particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten
      > years (or so). I've been told much about The Book of the New Sun, The
      > Dying Earth, Lyonesse, and Ryhope Wood, but I know little about the dozen or
      > so big adult fantasy series which have come out over the past ten years (or
      > so), although I know and have read some of the children's fantasy series
      > for this period. I hardly even recognize the names and the names of the
      > authors for the adult fantasy series.

      Well, you said you've read some of the children's books. For my money, the best of those are JK Rowlings "Harry Potter" books, which I think will stand the test of time as classics. The captivated me like no other book had done since Tolkien when I first read them. I also find Joseph Delaney's Spook's Apprentice books to be truly excellent.

      As for adult books of the past ten years, I recommend:
      _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_ by Susanna Clarke
      _The Historian_ by Elizabeth Kostova
      _The Dresden Files_ by Jim Butcher
      _Peter & Max_ by Bill Willingham (a novel about characters from his _Fables_ comic book series, which is very good as well.)
      _Johannes Cabal: the Necromancer_ by Jonathan L. Howard

      Some folks like _The Magicians_ by Lev Grossman, it is well written, but very odd IMO. I reviewed it last March in KODT and started the review like this:

      ""Wake up!" Alice said. "This isn't a story! It's just one fucking thing after another!"

      Two thirds of the way through Lev Grossman’s fantasy novel the only truly appealing character in the novel screeches out the novel’s strengths and flaws in one shrill, profane statement. It isn’t a story, not really. It’s just one thing after another."
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