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Re: [mythsoc] Recent Fantasy

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... But it wasn t because fantasy, the genre, went into decline. ... Indeed. As I said, the vein of classics had been tapped out: the books had sold to those
    Message 1 of 17 , Jul 2, 2000
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      On Sun, 2 Jul 2000, Bill wrote:

      > This was the point I was trying to make. For years after the Lin
      > Carter line ended, most of the classics he reprinted went out of print
      > again. Only recently have some lesser publishers brought a few out and
      > DelRey recently reprinted two Dunsanys in trade paperback.

      But it wasn't because fantasy, the genre, went into decline.

      > Being in the book selling business for 12 years now, I still feel it
      > was lack of sales that persuaded the new owners not to continue it as it
      > was.

      Indeed. As I said, the vein of classics had been tapped out: the books
      had sold to those who were interested, and weren't selling many more, and
      Carter was beginning to run out of top-notch work that was a) available
      to reprint and b) was in the specific subgenre in which he was
      interested. When I said that fantasy had not ceased to sell, I meant
      fantasy in general, not those books in particular. My main point was
      that they _never_ sold in large quantities to the sort of people fueling
      the fantasy boom now. This had nothing to do with whether there was a
      fantasy boom on or not. The Unicorn's Head books were a prestige series
      for Ballantine, which never sold particularly well.

      > Also the McKillip RiddleMaster books. A great time to haunt the sf
      > section of the bookstores.

      The first two Riddle Master books, having already appeared in hardcover
      from Atheneum, came out in Del Rey paperbacks the following year, 1978.
      (The third book had not yet appeared at all: it came out the next year.)
      Yes, Del Rey was still publishing some good fantasy then, and it's useful
      to remember that.

      David Bratman
      - not responsible for the following advertisement -
    • David S. Bratman
      Bill - You need not convince me of the startling similarities between Tolkien and Donaldson, Eddings, etc. Nor is there any question whence these
      Message 2 of 17 , Jul 2, 2000
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        Bill -

        You need not convince me of the startling similarities between Tolkien
        and Donaldson, Eddings, etc. Nor is there any question whence these
        similarities.

        But beyond that, a specific formula has grown up, out of this general
        form, which Tolkien does not follow, and which makes him disappointing to
        those who are expecting it.

        Not being gifted with this mindset, it's difficult for me to describe it,
        but among the stumbling-blocks which readers of this sort find in LOTR
        are the very scanty and unsystematized use of magic, and the long
        meandering opening section before the adventure really gets going, along
        with various "slack" passages thereafter.

        Don't take my word for it: ask your customers. Certainly Tolkien is still
        popular among many, even the young, but you will also find many young
        readers who've grown up on later fantasists and who find Tolkien very
        difficult or uninteresting.

        David Bratman
        - not responsible for the following advertisement -
      • David S. Bratman
        Lisa - Since the panel description on the Chicon website reads J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the best known of the group, but there were other Inklings
        Message 3 of 17 , Aug 22 10:47 AM
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          Lisa -

          Since the panel description on the Chicon website reads "J.R.R. Tolkien
          and C.S. Lewis are the best known of the group, but there were other
          Inklings too," it seems to me that what you're really on is a Charles
          Williams panel. He's the real "other" Inkling, and the only other one
          who wrote fantasy, so he's the one you should focus on. And it so
          happens that since our book of Williams has actually been published, I'll
          bring a copy along and you can show it off on the panel.

          Sayers can also be mentioned, but she was a Friend Of, not an Inkling.
          The other Inklings most worth mentioning, to an audience which doesn't
          want the boring scholarly blither that I'd probably contribute if I were
          a panelist, are:

          W.H. Lewis - CSL's brother, author of some delightful volumes on French
          history of the Louis XIV period (especially _The Splendid Century_) and a
          superb diarist: selections of his diaries have been published under the
          title _Brothers and Friends_, and are a good picture of CSL as well as
          interesting in their own right.

          Nevill Coghill - a literature professor at Oxford, he specialized in
          drama and directed some notable Shakespeare productions, as well as
          Richard Burton's film of Marlowe's _Doctor Faustus_; but to a literary
          audience he should be most noted for his fine translation of Chaucer's
          _Canterbury Tales_, in the Penguin edition.

          Owen Barfield - somebody other than me will have to try to boil him into
          a paragraph, but essentially he was a philosopher of language whose
          thought deeply influenced both Lewis and Tolkien and enriched their
          work. The Barfield books to start with are _Poetic Diction_ and _Saving
          the Appearances_: the latter in particular will be appreciated by anybody
          who was interested by Julian Jaynes's _The Origin of Consciousness in the
          Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind_. Barfield's influence on Tolkien is
          well described in _A Question of Time_ by Verlyn Flieger.

          Good luck!

          David Bratman
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