July 17, 2019, 07:54:21 AM

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>Why did Erikson, Steven and Malazan not make the cut?  Edit - No Hobb, Robin either?

Elfy doesn't ask to be defended, but I'll do so anyway. It's his list. Making the list is a lot of work--I know because I've done similar work--so I'm just happy that it's shared. Others will disagree, so make your own list. I don't say this to scold--it really is a worthwhile exercise. Then you can share it here, if you wish.

Personally I find Hobb dull and Erikson just oppressive, so they barely make my "books I have read" list. Everyone has their own tastes.

Here's another reason to make your own list. (NB: I'm speaking to the audience here, not the individual) Whether you are young or old, you're going to get older. You'll change. Making the list (and the comments are very important here) pegs in you time. A decade from now, after you've read more, come back to your list.

And another reason: if you have friends, give it to them. If you have children, give it to them. Twenty years later, give the (revised) list to their children. It's a gift.

No Cook, but I agree. OTOH, I would've put Bancroft in the list, and Peter S. Beagle as well.

But this is your list, Elfy, and I'm happy to read it. It may well inspire me to make my own list. I have such, but without commentary, and it's really the commentary that adds value. I would address it to my kids and grandkids.

Thanks for A and B here. The comments are extremely useful and I appreciate how much work goes into that. Looking forward to the rest of the alphabet!

Ever since I read Stand on Zanzibar back in the early 70s, I've argued that John Brunner has it right. We just stumble along. No great apocalypse, just slow degradation of the environment and we all adjust to it. By the time of his story he has people wearing breathing masks, for example, but still everyone goes to work (at least those who have a job).

As a historian, I like to point out that systems and civilizations--which is to say human beings--have an astonishing capacity to keep running while broken. They just keep going and changing in small ways until their forefathers would no longer recognize the current world.

It's sort of the most depressing view. At least an apocalypse has drama. Also, it can loom as something to be avoided or prevented, and so drive cultures toward solutions. But the slow fade doesn't get anyone's blood up.

General Discussion / Re: Domestic Issues
« on: July 09, 2019, 04:23:22 PM »
I have a method that has served me well; I offer it FWIW.

First, make your requirements list, do the research, make a list. All the rational things.

Second, become irrational. No, really. Doing all the rational stuff only ever gets me what people are pleased to call a short list, though often the list is still dauntingly long. There's no way to make a choice from there because every item in the list invariably meets the requirements. Sure I could choose the cheapest item, but often there's little difference in price at the bottom end, and things like reputation and reviews are all over the place.

So, I go with my gut. As far as possible, I'll look at the items in person. I choose the shiny one. The pretty one, the glitzy one, the tasteful one ... the one, in short, that appeals to me on a non-rational basis. The one that best makes me smile.

I have a solid reason for this approach. I call it the "that damn car" reason.

I have a brother-in-law who once owned a 1965 Ford Mustang. It almost never ran in the 30+ years he owned it. Every so often he'd get it running, go for days or weeks, then it'd break down again. Spent thousands on it.

But he loved it. The car could do no wrong, not because it was so good a vehicle, but because he loved it. Over the years, he had other cars. If it was a car he bought because it was inexpensive or whatever, and the least thing went wrong, it was "that damn car." Even if the car was flawless, it was just a car. But that Mustang? It wasn't just a car, it was a project. Because he loved it.

That became the basis for my decision making. Sure, do all the rational stuff. I mean, we wouldn't want to be irrational, would we? But reason takes us only so far. The heart takes us the rest of the way.

General Discussion / Re: Mom or Mum
« on: July 06, 2019, 07:01:12 PM »
It all depends on what you intend when one of your characters they have to keep mum.

Who was the first person to welcome you to your new home?
@JMack, @Eclipse, @xiagan back in 2015

Who was the first person to reply to your outside the intro section?

Who were the first three posters who replied to your first ever topic?
@JMack, @xiagan, @Elfy

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: A few questions
« on: June 30, 2019, 05:26:54 PM »
Except for the elves and dwarves question, SF wins across the board. They have the most imaginative creatures, most creative modes of transport, and even have the best inns (e.g., Callahan's Crosstime Saloon).

As for the third question, I'll add my own spin. Has anyone done traditional elves and dwarves better than Tolkien? Sometimes I think it's harder to do traditional well than to break the mold, because if you do traditional you're being held to such a high standard.

It was refreshing in the latest incarnation of Spider-Man the audience wasn’t subjected to his origin story again.

Into the Spiderverse was nothing but origin stories. And it was great!

If there were fans of Altearth who wanted to write their own stories set in that world, I'd be both thrilled and honored. The key in that word fanfiction is that there are *fans*. That means there are people who love your work. Who could possibly object?

That's me speaking as an author. As a reader, I don't think I've ever picked up such a work, even though I'm old enough to know that fanfic goes at least as far back as the 1970s and represents a genuine cultural phenomenon. It's just not something that has appealed to me. But all props and respect to the fans, whether they're writing stories or painting pictures or making movies.

But there are hundreds of women authors--so many, in fact, that people have made lists of them. Did you try doing a search?

I have a problem with any generalizations about audience. To quote the ancient sage: it doesn't take all kinds to make a world, we just have all kinds. Which is to say, there's a reader for just about every story. I've got a nine-year-old grandson to whom I read Treasure Island. We just finished it and it took us nearly two years (he lives in another state). You can say he's unusual, but you can't claim he's unique.

I don't want to get into the silly squabble about Good Omens, but I will point out that the book was published in 1990, long before Millennials were even on the scene.

I'll also point out that writers were being advised that they had to hook the reader by the first page at least since the turn of the century. No, not that century, the one before it.

Seriously, folks. Write a good story. Write the best one you can and pay no attention to those who say "the reader" is this, that, or any other thing. There's no such thing as the reader. There are only readers and they are of every stripe. Some will even like the things you do!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Torture/Cruelty
« on: June 19, 2019, 02:54:11 AM »
Gruesome/gory is generally done for shock value, and shock wears off pretty quickly. Some people seem to relish it, and it doesn't wear on them as quickly. Turns out there are different kinds of readers, so we have different kinds of books. There are books I like very much that other people dismiss as boring or stupid or just plain unreadable. Diff'rent strokes, as the poet sayeth.

I do have a more specific problem with torture, especially torturer as a profession.  We know from wide experience that torture is a lousy way to get reliable information. It's pretty effective in getting a confession, but honestly just killing the poor fellow is much quickly and can make use of unskilled labor. The only reason to bother with the confession is if the interrogating entity (usually a government) wants a pretense of legality. But since it's all for show, pretty much anyone can do the torturing.

I never made it past the first few chapters of Wolfe's much-lauded series because I never bought the premise, and because I find the pseudo-Goldfinger, which in turn was pseudo-Gestapo, brand of interrogation to be rather silly. I just never recovered from that. Since then, any number of books have employed the same trope.

But, once again, other people don't have these objections, and many appear to enjoy the genre.


Documentary Now
Ash vs Evil Dead
Good Omens
Brooklyn 99

I only go for the highbrow stuff.

My first instinct is to say no, and to say that it's just plain bad writing.

But then I have to recall some classics, especially some SF classics, that are very preachy.

Upon more reflection, this is when I get irked. Both conditions must be fulfilled.
1) the writing is clumsy; that is, I notice that it's preaching and it's heavy-handed. The polemical version of info-dump.
2) I don't agree with what's being preached.

I had to be honest about that second point. If the preaching is about freedom and liberal values, or philosophical positions that correspond to my own, I'm more tolerant.

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