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Re: 1998 Fantasy Books

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  • Matthew Winslow
    ... At times I think we should just make McKillip the default winner. Seriously, though, I ve put a bit of thought into this whole McKillip thing because
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 7, 1998
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      On Mon, 7 Dec 1998, David Lenander wrote:

      > Has any other current fantasy genre writer been more consistently good?

      At times I think we should just make McKillip the default winner. <g>

      Seriously, though, I've put a bit of thought into this whole McKillip
      thing because my wife is *not* a McKillip fan. I started reading The Book
      of Atrix Wolfe to her and she stopped me after about three chapters. We
      made it through Forgotten Beasts of Eld and I thought it was wonderful and
      she thought it was "OK". I think McKillip is so enjoyable to me because of
      <cliche warning> the wonderful lyricalness of her writing. She and Beagle
      both use the cliches of the genre, but make those cliches seem new and
      beautiful -- like that cereal commercial, "discovering them again for the
      very first time."

      As to consistent authors, Crowley gets better in my eyes, but he is just
      right on the edge of fantasy -- especially with the Aegypt tetralogy. I
      could see nominating Little, Big were I in the Society back then. (Sorry,
      I'm only 28, so I was, um, 12 when it came out), but even though I think
      the Aegypt tetralogy is excellent, it'll probably never get nominated by
      me.

      > Pam Dean's Rosemary & Juniper book won't make my final list, though I enjoyed
      > reading it.

      Could you elaborate on what you liked about it? I made it through, but my
      feelings were in line with what Berni felt -- Dean's representation of
      adolescents was waaaay to unreal to be believable at all. It worked in Tam
      Lin (barely), but not here.

      Matthew Winslow mwinslow@...
      http://members.theglobe.com/mithlond
      "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading
      them." - Joseph Brodsky
    • Matthew Winslow
      ... Oh, not despair for the award or anything , just despair on finding more than a few for the nomination list. ... I loved this book (and Willis in
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 10, 1998
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        On Fri, 11 Dec 1998, Eleanor Farrell wrote:

        > Matt,
        >
        > I see (or make!) this comment every year.... but always find at least a
        > couple of gems on the fantasy shelves. So, don't despair! One reason for

        Oh, not despair for the award or anything <g>, just despair on finding
        more than a few for the nomination list.

        > _To Say Nothing of the Dog_ by Connie Willis

        I loved this book (and Willis in general), but it just didn't feel like a
        book "written in the spirit of the Inklings" (or whatever the phrase is).
        _Darwinia_, though, felt a lot like it to me -- even though it is
        technically science fiction.

        Has anyone read -- or even been able to find a copy of -- Joe Lansdale's
        _The Boar_? It sounds like a good book, but it's from a small publisher
        and is well over $25 -- and it's only about 130 pages or so. I'd love to
        put it on the nomination list, but I'd feel bad if it were one of those
        books no one could find.

        Matthew Winslow mwinslow@...
        http://www.firinn.org/~mwinslow/
        "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading
        them." - Joseph Brodsky
      • Eleanor Farrell
        David Lenander wrote: On the children s list, I m interested in reading THE KEY TO THE INDIAN, it will be interesting to see if Banks can dig herself out of
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 11, 1998
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          David Lenander wrote:

          On the children's list, I'm interested in reading THE KEY TO THE INDIAN, it
          will
          be interesting to see if Banks can dig herself out of the hole she tumbled
          into:
          this looks to be some form of apology or attempt to redeem the problems of her
          earlier book(s) with handling Native American Indian material. Her last book,
          the Mystery of the Cupboard was her best book so far, but she largely avoided
          the Amerindian difficulties by retreating to Victorian/Edwardian England.

          David, your comments are intriguing, how about more info here for those of
          us who don't know who "Banks" is or know anything about her books?

          Thanks,

          Ellie

          ********************************************************************************
          *
          Eleanor M. Farrell
          P.O. Box 320486
          San Francisco, CA 94132-0486
          E-mail: emfarrell@...

          Editor, Mythprint (Mythopoeic Society newsletter)
          Mythopoeic Society web site: http://www.mythsoc.org
          ********************************************************************************
          *
        • Eleanor Farrell
          Matthew Winslow wrote: Overall, though, this felt like a slim year for nomination-worthy titles. I culled this year s Locus and came up with only about 10
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 11, 1998
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            Matthew Winslow wrote:

            Overall, though, this felt like a slim year for nomination-worthy titles.
            I culled this year's "Locus" and came up with only about 10 possibilities
            -- and three of those were by one author (Sean Stewart). Did this feel
            like a thin yeart to others?

            I just received the latest issue of Locus with the forthcoming books list,
            and next year looks to be thin also. There's a new Gaiman or two, but
            that's about all that stands out in my mind.

            ------
            Matt,

            I see (or make!) this comment every year.... but always find at least a
            couple of gems on the fantasy shelves. So, don't despair! One reason for
            encouraging as many people as possible to nominate books is that we're more
            likely not to overlook something obscure and maybe wonderful.... I haven't
            yet seen the Locus "best of" list (hmm, I guess it's not out yet, but is
            always a good place to check! Might be the February issue...) but offhand I
            can think of at least a handful of books (which I have read) worth
            nominating:

            _Song for the Basilisk_ by Patricia A. McKillip
            _To Say Nothing of the Dog_ by Connie Willis
            _Stardust_ by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess

            And now, thanks to Trish and Joe and yourself and others, I have more of
            these to check out in the next few months!

            Ellie

            ********************************************************************************
            *
            Eleanor M. Farrell
            P.O. Box 320486
            San Francisco, CA 94132-0486
            E-mail: emfarrell@...

            Editor, Mythprint (Mythopoeic Society newsletter)
            Mythopoeic Society web site: http://www.mythsoc.org
            ********************************************************************************
            *
          • David Lenander
            Responding to the message from Eleanor Farrell ... Lynne Reid Banks has written a number of children s books, including a number of
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 11, 1998
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              Responding to the message
              from Eleanor Farrell <emfarrell@...>
              >
              > David, your comments are intriguing, how about more info here for those of
              > us who don't know who "Banks" is or know anything about her books?

              Lynne Reid Banks has written a number of children's books, including a number of
              fantasies. Far and away her most popular and commercially successful is the
              series beginning with *The Indian in the Cupboard*. The sequels include:
              *Return of the Indian* *Secret of the Indian* and *Mystery of the Cupboard* and
              the new *Key to the Indian*. She's been criticized as misusing the Native
              American material that she employed as background for the character Little Bear.
              I think that the first book was written rather thoughtlessly regarding this, so
              Little Bear speaks in a sort of "Movie Injun" broken English, but clearly she's
              been trying to improve things, since. The new book is apparently focusing much
              more directly on Little Bear, so my guess is that she's trying to "make up" for
              the first book. Rather as P.L. Travers rewrote portions of one of the Mary
              Poppins books to address a supposedly racist portrayal of an African family.
              Indian in the Cupboard was made into a major film a couple of years ago, though
              I seem to recall that it incorporated elements from the second book, too. Aside
              from the criticism that the books include insensitive portrayals of Native
              American Indians, the books are in many respects very well written, and have
              been much praised and become quite popular. Lois Kuznets discussed at least the
              first in her MSA-award book *When Toys Come Alive*.

              To be honest, I've not read the first book (But I saw the MOVIE!), but I have
              read the three sequels and have been very impressed with the increasingly
              interesting things that Banks has done in these books, especially with
              *Mystery*, where she develops the rudimentary idea of the magical key and
              cupboard in logical but previously unexpected ways, and experiments with Telling
              the Grown-ups the Truth about the magic, which seems odd in the 4th book of a
              series that hadn't previously done this. On the other hand, I think that I
              found *Mystery* easier to like partly because she was avoiding the "Little Bear"
              material, which has always made me uneasy.

              Incidentally, we do not have a dearth of books to consider on the children's
              side. Laura forwarded a list of--I don't know, more than 100, I think-- in the
              Once UPon a Time that came yesterday. Well known authors with new books include
              Banks, T.A. Barron, Nina Bawden, Francesca Lia Block, Bruce Coville, Jane Louise
              Curry (anyone heard from her in a while?), Roald Dahl, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean
              (Juniper, etc. as a Y.A.?), Cynthia DeFelice, Peter Dickinson (!), Martin
              Gardner, Alan Garner (!!), Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, Ellen Kindt
              McKenzie, Robin McKinley, Gregory Maguire, Margaret Mahy (!), Donna Jo Napoli,
              Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Gary Paulsen, Tamora Pierce, Daniel Pinkwater (!),
              Philip Pullman, Cynthia Rylant, Jon Scieszka, William Sleator, Sherwood Smith,
              Nancy Springer, J.R.R. Tolkien (!), Vivian Vande Velde, Jane Yolen and Paul
              Zindell. These are just the ones that ring a bell with me. A book getting a
              LOT of attention will be J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone*,
              and I've seen very positive comments about Michael Cadnum's *In a Dark Wood*,
              though Ellie doesn't seem to have thought too much of it, in the latest
              MYTHPRINT. 3 I've read from Laura's list: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's *In the
              Stone Circle* (historical time travel/ghosts in Wales), Ellen Kindt McKenzie's
              *Golden Band of Eddris* and Eva Ibbotson's *Secret of Platform 13* probably
              won't make my final ballot, though I guess I can't rule out the McKenzie at this
              point. Laura hasn't read all of these, either. But she does focus on the
              Dalkey, Jones, Virginia Layefsky, Napoli, Rowling and Springer books as
              especially worth looking at. And her review of Rylant's book in the same issue
              made me wonder why she'd left it off this short list, it sounds very
              interesting.

              Laura's also promised us a second list of more picture books. I hope to post
              her list on the Once UPon a TIme web-site, but I'm not sure how soon.




              David Lenander, Library Manager I
              Bio-Medical Library Access Services work: (612)626-3375
              Circulation, Core Collections & Reserve Desks home: (651)292-8887
              Diehl Hall/505 Essex SE fax: (612)626-2454
              University of Minnesota
              Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

              e-mail: d-lena@...
              web-page: http://www.tc.umn.edu/nlhome/m391/d-lena/BirdnBab.html
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