best fantasy author working

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Kewangji
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby Kewangji » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:56 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:Yeah you don't hate exposition, you just hate Dean Koontz... so try Stephen King.

Best fantasy author: Stephen King (when he writes it, that is. I dunno if the Stand counts, but the Dark Tower surely does. And whoo boy. Whoo boy.) and George R.R. Martin but I'm pretty sure book #5 is never coming out and he spends all his days laughing his ass off at our plight.

Warning: Only read 3/4ths of Stephen King's books, and then make up an ending/explanation for it, for the most satisfying experience. (I have no opinion on the Dark Tower, though, I tried to get through the first book but I just couldn't. I'd say it sucks, but apparently fans say you have to read those books, like, last of all the King books. Meh.)
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby pollywog » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:56 am UTC

Midnight wrote:Best fantasy author: Stephen King (when he writes it, that is. I dunno if the Stand counts, but the Dark Tower surely does. And whoo boy. Whoo boy.) and George R.R. Martin but I'm pretty sure book #5 is never coming out and he spends all his days laughing his ass off at our plight.
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:20 am UTC

natraj wrote:
aurumelectrum13 wrote:Susanna Clarke, currently at work on the sequel to Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.


Oh man, that makes me so happy. I just recently read that book and it was pretty much one of the greatest things I had ever read. Her style is utterly delightful.

Were other people bothered by the thinkness of that book? It's a problem with a lot of writers in this thread, but this book had a concise story, it wasn't really a sprawling epic. If it was concentrated in a few hundred pages, it would have been awesome.

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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby natraj » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:57 pm UTC

I dunno, I liked it that way. I mean, yes, it had a concise story and all those plot-points could've been done in a more compact book, but it would have left out so much of the interplay between characters that was really very enjoyable. I don't know. I did not mind its pacing at all.
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby emceng » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

natraj wrote:I dunno, I liked it that way. I mean, yes, it had a concise story and all those plot-points could've been done in a more compact book, but it would have left out so much of the interplay between characters that was really very enjoyable. I don't know. I did not mind its pacing at all.


I would agree. You definitely could have edited it down - removed the black dude/prince story line, less time spent on Strange at War, etc. But it would have lost some of the character and feel of the book. I think back to some of Zelazny's work. He has very interesting stories, but some of them needed to be fleshed out more. That kind of goes back to the discussion of LeGuin. LeGuin is able to tell a story where you felt the whole narrative was there - even in just 150 pages. Zelazny's books I many times felt like there was context and background - maybe character development as well - that could have been added but was not.
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby SpaceShipRat » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:11 pm UTC

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. is great, but it's meant to be a trilogy, of course it has multiple plots. She's taking ages to write a little more. I mean I was in high school when I got it, and she's published nothing since. :/ My vote is still for Diana Wynne Jones, she's as productive as Terry Pratchett, bless them both.

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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby aurumelectrum13 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:49 am UTC

SpaceShipRat wrote:Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. is great, but it's meant to be a trilogy, of course it has multiple plots. She's taking ages to write a little more. I mean I was in high school when I got it, and she's published nothing since. :/ My vote is still for Diana Wynne Jones, she's as productive as Terry Pratchett, bless them both.


It did take ten years for her to write just the one novel. I'll be happy if we get just one more.
emceng wrote:
natraj wrote:I dunno, I liked it that way. I mean, yes, it had a concise story and all those plot-points could've been done in a more compact book, but it would have left out so much of the interplay between characters that was really very enjoyable. I don't know. I did not mind its pacing at all.


I would agree. You definitely could have edited it down - removed the black dude/prince story line, less time spent on Strange at War, etc. But it would have lost some of the character and feel of the book. I think back to some of Zelazny's work. He has very interesting stories, but some of them needed to be fleshed out more. That kind of goes back to the discussion of LeGuin. LeGuin is able to tell a story where you felt the whole narrative was there - even in just 150 pages. Zelazny's books I many times felt like there was context and background - maybe character development as well - that could have been added but was not.


Exactly. It's a pastiche of Dickens and Austin. Books were longer then.

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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby Zamfir » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:12 am UTC

emceng wrote:I would agree. You definitely could have edited it down - removed the black dude/prince story line, less time spent on Strange at War, etc. But it would have lost some of the character and feel of the book. I think back to some of Zelazny's work. He has very interesting stories, but some of them needed to be fleshed out more. That kind of goes back to the discussion of LeGuin. LeGuin is able to tell a story where you felt the whole narrative was there - even in just 150 pages. Zelazny's books I many times felt like there was context and background - maybe character development as well - that could have been added but was not.


The thing is, being edited down also forces a writer to choose the parts of the story that really matter, and spend valuable pages only if they are needed. That's also why it is useful if that pressure comes from the outside, like an editor, because it can be hard for writers to scrap their own creations. It felt to me as if this book could have benefited a lot from such pressure.

The part of Strange in the war is a good example, I think. It could be chosen as vitally important to the story, because it shows the development of Strange into a powerful, independent magician, and because it shows his experience with death magic. In a shorter book, it could have been an entire act of the book.

Another choice could have been to boil the episode down to a few "postcard" examples, perhaps even in flashback. Then it becomes just a small facet in the broader development of Strange, a hint of things going on outside of the book narrative.

But in the book, it is both and neither. It is too small a part of the story to be a really important element, it feels a bit superfluous even. But on the other hand it too detailed to act as "postcard". It is too complete to feel as an example of many other things Strange is going through. So it starts to feel as a recording: Strange went through this, so we have to tell about it. But this part, and many other parts, never feel as if you need to be told about them.

aurumelectrum13 wrote:Exactly. It's a pastiche of Dickens and Austin. Books were longer then.

Do you mean Austen? If so, I think these are two different things. Dickens books are long and sprawling because they aren't novels, they are collections of serializations. The audience they were intended for read them as several dozen separate parts, making it a slightly different art form than a novel.

Austen on the other hand did write novels: intended to be read as a whole in several sittings, with the reader choosing when to stop. Her books are a lot shorter than Strange And Norrell, around 300 to 350 pages each, and each page smaller than S&N's 800. I guess Strange and Norrel has nearly three times the text of a typical Austen novel. I'd say that Strange and Norrell shares some resemblance to Jane Austen in style of the sentences, also of descriptions of areas, but definitely not in the plotting and pacing, or in the way characters are introduced and developed.

You can see the opposite with Zelazny, as emceng notes. He was really, pyhsically constrained by the format of mass-market paperbacks of those years, and that produced a genre that was really a specific sub-genre of novels. Mass-market books from those decades are all nearly identical in length, and writers had to learn to write to that. Some books of Zelazny are clearly over-filling, pruned down a lot to fit the format, but others are a bit stretched, extended to fit the standard size.

Modern paperbacks are less restrcted in size, and you see that the 'typical" novel has grown a lot, to something somewhat large than Austen novels. But I would argue that very thick, multi-volume fantasy stories are more different than just longer novels. They are a somewhat different art form, just as Dickens doesn't really wrote novels. It's an art form that perhaps still needs some twerking, especially when it comes to closing.

So I'd say that Susanna Clarke could write a long book because fantasy readers and publishers are used to tomes. But the book she actually wrote was not a tome-type book, and would have been a better book if it was closer in length to a traditional novel.

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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby Telchar » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:37 pm UTC

Apteryx wrote:You certainly need a bit of spare time, or to read quicker than average.

A group of my friends and I all started them at once. Of the 6 of us, I have still two books to go, what with working for a living, and my internet habit, and another bloke is on the last book, but one of our friends is already half way through re-reading them. :shock:

The never explaining things is deliberate, and obviously only going to please some readers. I love it when someone leaves you to do some of the work like that. And I HATE exposition, it is the mark of a useless writer.


I haven't met anyone who is pleased by being purposely confused. It's asinine, and the further I get into the books the more idiotic it becomes. The books would be much more enjoyable if you could sort through what's vague forshadowing and what's the author being lazy and not explaining anything.

I've finished book 4-7 in about 2 weeks and it's still a series with so much unrealized potential because Erikson is a terrible writer.
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Re: best fantasy author working

Postby Brother Maynard » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:34 pm UTC

Plasma Man wrote:I think I'd have to go for Terry Pratchett, but my second choice would be Piers Anthony. Now, I know most people are going to think of the Xanth books (which, let's be honest, aren't brilliant), but his other fantasy series are very good. I'm a particular fan of the Incarnations of Immortality series and recently picked up the eighth and final (so far) in the series, which I enjoyed.



Oh HELL no. Incarnations #7 is probably the worst book I've ever read that was written by someone that wasn't an idiot. (Disclosure: I'm an agnostic, but I was raised Baptist) Anthony spent 6 books only to climax in a trainwreck of author-approved pedophila and a Godzilla-sized Straw Man of Christianity.


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