July 28th, 2005, 08:44 PM
What Can You Tell Me About....
What can you tell me about these authors? Some are relatively new, some not so much, some may have come up in threads before, but Iím consolidating. Comparisons are fine. If you donít like an authorís work, tell why but be kind. If you donít like a novel because itís in a particular sub-genre, please keep it to yourself.
Michael A. Stackpole
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Last edited by KatG; July 30th, 2005 at 11:43 AM.
July 28th, 2005, 09:16 PM
I can comment on Lian Hearn and Steph Swainston.
Liarn Hearn is the pseudonym for Australian children's/YA author Gillian Rubenstein. She took up the pseudonym so that her works could be marketed at an adult market without the hangover of being recognised as a childrens atuhor. Despite this I felt her Otori trilogy had some very strong YA elements. The trilogy, with a distinct Asian flavour, consists of Across The Nightingale Floor, Grass For His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon. I'd rate it as middle of the range YA, good but not as compelling or charming as other Aussie YA author Garth Nix.
Steph Swainston sits within the "New Weird" bucket. Her first novel, The Year of Our War, focuses on Jant, a winged, drug addicted immortal. Set in a world where 50 immortals lead the fight against hoardes of giant insects, whenever Jant OD's he is transferred into what he at first believes his own hallucination (it's full of weird stuff and realisations of bad puns) but instead turns out to be some form of alternate dimension that can affect his world. Swainston shows good imagination but not the best execution in her first novel. The follow up, No Present Like Time, nearly suffers from the opposite - the scope of the imagination is cut down but the narrative is better in my mind.
Hope that helps - I'm not sure I've really given you what you were looking for.
July 29th, 2005, 02:35 AM
KatG, I'm not sure if you wanted a summary, or our thoughts, so if you want more on any I list pelase feel free to ask.
I read her debut Forethorn, and was mildy surprised about how much I liked it. She has a quality to her prose that makes it unique from standard fare, and the story is absolutely gritty, and at times morbid. I'm not sure if I liked it as much as I liked it more then I thought I would - as I was expecting a luna-like harlequin-romance (which I don't like). I thougth I was getting Lackey and I got something good. The research is done well, the language is proper for the period - it just has a realistic, believable feel while portraying the fantastic.
I'm commited to getting her sequel however, I think this debut went under the radar a little.
I read his latest novel Black Brillion set in the archonate universe his prior two other novels are set in. He also has a colelction coming out from Nightshade now, The Gist Hunter and other stories which I have ordered. I don't say this lightly, but Hughes' narrative/prose is Vance-like. Don't get me wrong, it's not Vance, but it's similar. He also shares Vance's love for crime/detective novels, as Black Brillion is a soemwhat of a cross/genre book, and he has written mystery novels before.
I interviewed Matthew Hughes here
As noted above a New Weird author who draws influence from the legendary (living legend) M. John Harrison
I think Steph performs a wonderful character profile with Jant, and the series basis is damn interestic (the Circle). I also thoguth the conceptual possibilities of Shift is a nice touch, and thought the flashbacks to Jant's past, depicting a dickensenain feel were the best parts of the novel.
That said, Steph dialog sometimes leaves something nto be desired and it a bit of a deus ex machina ending to the plot. I really enjoyed the concept and the peripheral stories much more then the linear main story
As noted above a New Weird author who draws influence from the legendary (living legend) M. John Harrison
I reviewed her debut novel, The Year of Our War here and interviewed Steph here
Mr. Thompson is a good chap (and and pro-football aspirations apparently). His work is typical High fantasy, he claims to be heavly influenced by Terry Brooks, and it really is the best comparison. Very Linear, very formula abiding. There is a huge market for thsi type of work, just personally I have read this story 500 times before from various other authors. Mr. Thompson put's his twists in, but it doesn't effectively create something new. A quinessential example of High fantasy. He released Crimsons Sword this year which was his debut work, and te hfrist in a planned trilogy called ĎThe Legend of Asahielí . The subsequent, forthcoming titles will be The Obsidian Key, and The Divine Talisman.
I reviewed Eldon Thompson's debut novel The Crimson Sword here.
I interviewed Mr. Thompson here
Brilliant. Witcover is among my favorite authors. I read Waking Beauty and became an immiediate fan.
I have Tumbling After, but due to review obligations, only 30 pages into it but already enthralled.
Original, incredible vision, captivating world building, prose for adults, and not afraid to tug on themes considiered taboo by writers who desire to thold the readers hand. Just a beautifully written, legitmate example of specualtive fiction at it's best, in my opinion. Should be in every collection of merit.
Last edited by Ainulindale; July 29th, 2005 at 11:52 AM.
July 29th, 2005, 03:01 AM
Give me liberty!
Harris writes what could be described as southern vampire mystery novels. Four novels in so far, her protagonist is a psychic waitress living in a small town in Louisiana. The first novel, 'Dead Until Dark' deals with her meeting and falling in love with a man whose mind she cannot read: Except he's a vampire.
In Harris' alternative reality vampires have 'come out of the coffin' and achieved equal status in american society, subsisting on a diet of synthetic japanese blood and facing many of the issues all minority ethnic groups do.
The books have a certain 'murder, she wrote' quality about them, with inept law enforcement and amateur sleuthing being the order of the day. Harris tries to balance this with sub-themes revolving around her heroine's love life.
SFX magazine has called them 'kidult' novels, but I am inclined to argue that despite the skimpy page count and slightly garish cover art, these are definitley adult novels. Not just because there are some pretty grisly scenes, but also because Harris' conversational style is misleading. Its not that she can't write, I think she knowingly breaks some of the rules.
Harris is on-line and has discussed her work on her website's noticeboard. Some of the more interesting questions put to her have revolved around her depiction of the South, including accusations of racism (misdirected, in my opinion).
July 29th, 2005, 03:34 AM
Mary Jo Putney
I take it that 'M. J. Putney' is Mary Jo Putney.
I have read the book 'A Perfect Rose' by her. As romantic novels go, it was well-written. The story, outside the romantic elements was pretty engaging, and the characters were rather well sketched out. It was supposed to be a regency romance, set around the the turn of the 19th century. Personally I don't think the author put a lot of effort in the setting to make it authentic.
The book contained flash-backs and other narrative techniques which romantic novelists either fail to apply or execute very badly. The latter part contained some philosophizing which I felt was out-of-place in a story of its type.
The erotic parts were also nicely done, but again, unless the London of those times was extraordinarily lecherous, they somehow didn't ring true.
I have read the first two books of the tales of Otori and found them to be very good fantasy. The novels are short, tightly written and the characterization, though not world class, does not fell short for a young-adult book.
But the best things by far in the novels are the setting and the politiking. I liked them equally or even a little more than the aforemention Sabriel series by Garth Nix. (though I think Nix is a more compact writer whilst Hearn has greater talent and a wider range)
July 29th, 2005, 03:44 AM
Michael Stackpole is something of a fantasy veteran from the 80's. Most of his early novels are standalone. He's decent but not great. This year he has started a new series which got better than usual reviews : Secret Atlas.
Ian Irvine is one of the endless list of Australians who are invading the fantasy scene. His series A View from the Mirror is probably the best place to start. But be warned : reactions about his books are mixed. I found them OK but once again nothing special.
Kenneth Oppel is a YA author. His latest novel seems interesting : Airborn. It's a story about airships, teenage
protagonists, victorian background. The kind of story I like.
Quinn Yarbro : If you like Anne Rice and stories about immortal vampires moving throughout history.
Naomi Kritzer : promising new author. Her new series (Freedom's Gate/Apprentice) looks good. An alternative world with a Macedonian empire where magic and mythology exist.
July 29th, 2005, 07:44 AM
Originally Posted by KatG
Kelley Armstrong I think I have read - Fantasy Horror or Horror Fantasy but not spectacular as I didn't finish the book, which I usually do.
Ian Irvine I think someone already encapsulated it but to add, I think his writing style is a little dry and not very engaging. Though it was a long time ago that I tried to read one of his books.
Sarah Ash's Lord of Snow and Shadows I am sure has its own thread. I read the first two books in the series recently, and I didn't like them at all. I found that the story did not flow very well, it seemed as though she was not sure if she were writing an adult or young adult novel, or perhaps it was the perspective of a young person was difficult to emulate (compares badly with Robin Hobb and the fact that you feel as though you are witnessing the experiences of a teenager, regardless of whether you like him or not). Whatever the case I was not impressed at all. I think I wrote about it in the reading in...whatever month..thread. My memory is rubbish so I probably had a more detailed complaint in there.
Lian Hearn I haven't read but I did buy the series for a friends birthday and she loved it. She likes the same sort of fantasy books as I do, but she said this series was different, interesting and beautifully written. I have noticed it is not always in the fantasy section of the book shop so I imagine it has a wider appeal also.
There you go KatG, a very vague critique for you
July 29th, 2005, 08:29 AM
I have read several of Michael Stackpole's Star Wars novels and short stories. They have been reasonably solid: not as good as some of the best, but far better than some of the worst. He wrote the first few books in the X-Wing series. I haven't read any of his fantasy.
July 29th, 2005, 10:08 AM
High Priest of Cainism
Michael Stackpole is a decent writer, who has written some solid, entertaining fantasy novels, though nothing exceptional.
Talion: Revenant and Once a Hero are generally considered his best standalones. In fact, Talion was our BoTM in Feb 04, and Fitz has reviewed it here. I have not had a chance to read his Dragoncrown Cycle series.
July 29th, 2005, 11:01 AM
Abstainer from Foolosophy
Michael A. Stackpole
His early stuff seemed very reactive fantasy. Taking the imagination of others and working it into his own little adventure story. Turning out a mishmash of tropes that never really worked for me. His latest effort, The Secret Atlas seems much better and more of his own voice. Some interesting world-building and a new level of complexity that was not apparent in the few earlier pieces I had slogged through.
Easily my favorite debut author of last year. I am hoping that news of the sequel of her first novel coming out early next year is not overly optimistic. Micklem does things her own way. Much in the sense that Jacqueline Carey did with Kushiel's Legacy and Fallon did with her Second Sons trilogy. But the author she most reminded me of in terms of approach (her style is all her own) is Ricardo Pinto. Micklem is unflinching and determined to create her own world and does so quite nicely. Firethorn is definitely a [I]first/I] book though.
Her first series was quite imaginative and very thoughtful. There was never a sense that Kritzer was writing to just fill pages. Her second series (currently ongoing) is much better. Which says a lot. She writes simplistic plots and goes for characterization instead. There is little to no waste in the work, though she does sometimes indulge in the typical cliff hanger episodic style, but most of fantasy does that to one extent or another.
Horrific. I have no idea how she got her adult series published. Its a meandering, cluttered mess. Way too grand in scheme for such a trivial carry-through. She tries to incorporate the same smushed together philosophical claptrap that David Zindell does in his Ea Cycle and with different but equally disasterous results. Whereas Zindell comes off as a Tom Cruise Love Katie Holmes of fantasy writing, Baird is more the Juliette Lewis Ritalin Kills. Each blathers on and on about their grand vision of touchy feely and forget all too often they are writing a story with a plot and characters.
Obsessive world-builder. Great character conceiver. Plot tends to suffer a bit along the way. His first series is more of a mind-numbingly trek of suffering through a rich and intriguing world by characters that frustrate for the flaw after flaw that Irvine insists on belaboring to the point of almost bringing the whole work to a staggering halt. It doesn't. Just barely. There is some really rich detail worth going after if you like world-building. If, say, Ricardo Pinto did not bore you with what I saw as one of the richest and most fascinating worlds and societies, then go for Irvine. Be warned. The guy leaves a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the second series and last time I heard it would be awhile until he got around to addressing it.
I have only read one of her "Europa Suite" books. Which means I have only read one of her books. For contemporary work set in co-existing planes type fantasy it really worked well. Quite well. and I usually don't go in for that. Especially when there is an element of thriller that plays heavily in the story. Most times I tend to cringe at James Patterson with fairies or such. I have the next two of her books on my shelf in the series and will no doubt have at least one if not both read by the end of the coming month.
It straddles the line of YA and Adult; and does so quite well. A little fuzzy in some areas of her worldbuilding. Follows her influences almost too rigidly s that when she inserts her own whimsy or twist, it seems a bit glaring. However being interested in the period and setting that she derived such from might play a more significant role than for the average reader whose working knowledge comes from Shogun or such. I look forward to whatever is in the works though I have heard nothing at all since the release of the third book. I believe the work is being made into a movie. Not sure if that is a recommendation or a condemnation (Paolini's dreck is already filming -- the horror)
Quite overrated. But not bad overall. Severely self-indulgent and self-congratulatory in her own gimmck. To the point of really not taking the time to write as well as some snippets suggest she can. Its very much a "oooohh aren't I clever" approach that falters over and over again in her first book and has hints of being a passing phase in her second. Definitely a status book. One that readers who want to be able to say they are reading something other than what the common folk are. Very much the type of book that first year at Uni tends to wallow in. Right after they discover coffee, Argentinian cigarettes and Noam Chomsky. The ones that will tell you there is such a thing as "new" fantasy and that will argue until they are blue in the face that if you didn't like it, you just didn't get it due to not being cultured, smart or openminded enough. A literary nose ring if you will.
I would like to say good things about this guy, but he writes fanfiction when all is said and done. And not great fanfiction. He has no voice yet. There is no underlying sense of personal wonder in his creation. Maybe it will come with time. Overall, I just never get the feeling that he gives the reader true access to the realm of his imagination (at least I hope not -- otherwise...) that good and great fantasy writers need to do. His first book seemed more like an homage to things he likes about fantasy; not even things he likes in fantasy.
Decent writer. Shades of Steph Swainston in some of his work but much less obvious. And no where near as self-absorbed in the process. At least it does not come through as it does in Swainston. Have read two books and his storytelling is quite good. His actual stories are a bit bland though. He flirts with rich detail but then shys away as if he is afraid of being less minimalistic. His latter book, oddly, seemed to suffer a bit more of the "I'm not writing epic (i.e. that yucky stuff for the masses) fantasy". Though he is a good enough writer that the whole time is not spent thinking he should get over himself like, say, Mieville. Witcover is more subdued in his pretension to the point it practically disappears most of the time.
Its Sarah with a 'h'. Not a bad writer. But not quite good either. Her worldbuilding is incredibly bad. Her characterizaion is okay but the plot is thin and incredibly predictable. Way too much of __________ meets _________ in her quest to do something different. All she does is reveal a creation that looks as new and fresh as Frankenstein's monster with all its seams and nuts and bolts holding the cobbled original pieces together.
July 29th, 2005, 11:36 AM
\m/ BEER \m/
Links and snippets from those I've read on your list:
Michael A. Stackpole - Shehzad already linked to my review of the enjoyable Talion, a pretty straight-forward fantasy. Stackpole set up a fairly decent world here, one that would be interesting to see again. Like JohnH said, he cut his teeth on the media-tie in market, primarily Battletech and Star Wars. Again, to echo JohnH's statements, his most recent A Secret Atlas was very good, in fact, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, I'd say it was the book that suprised me the most this year. Some type-characters, but they were well-drawn and he did a very good job of world-building in this one. I will be buying the second novel in the series, Cartomancy when it publishes. I just looked over my review again, and I think I was a bit more tough on the book than I should have been, I really did enjoy it. Stackpole has a Web site at http://www.stormwolf.com
Steph Swainston - A lot of potential with her, I really enjoyed The Year of Our War quite a bit, even if it was a bit rough on the edges. Like JohnH intimates, she was touted as almost a new standard-bearer for New Weird, but the story does have some Epic elements to it. I plan on getting my hands on No Present Like Time to see where she takes the characters and how her world develops.
Sarah Ash - I thought Lord of Snow and Shadows was OK, well actually better than OK. She did some interesting things in terms of bringing the Dracula/Dragon/Lycanthrope myths together, and with the characters, but there was something, I don't what exactly what, just something that didn't push me to get the next books. Though the US MMPB does have my review quoted on the first page of reviews or so. I may pick up the next two in MMPB at some point, but I'm not in a rush, there are other books I'd rather occupy my time with...
...like Sarah Micklem's Firethorn. Based on Ain's and JohnH's comments, I may be picking this one up.
Last edited by Fitz; July 29th, 2005 at 11:45 AM.
July 29th, 2005, 06:27 PM
I was given the set as a present I think and suprisingly read them very quickly. Engaging strong female characters, though the males tended towards the stereotypical. The plots are transparent to a certain degree. Popcorn-horror was how friend described it and have to agree as there is not any real horror. They were definitely the right tonic after the seriousness of Thomas Covenent!
I loved these books. Agree with Ouroborus, the kidult tag is misleading, the main character is in her mid-twenties for example. There are some graphic scenes throughout all five books and she has succeeded in getting across that vampires are not human and think very differently. There is a depth both to her characterisation and her settings you can believe in her depictions of the South.
I read this series last year and was impressed with the vivid descriptions of the Eastern world. Its the highlight of the book for me to be so completely sucked into another world like that. It is more a YA novel, while there is both sex and violence it is very stylised and distant. She is definitely more descriptive than say Garth Nix but her obsession with detail can get in the way of plot. Still good series.
I will admit that I started this series and could not finish it. I struggled with his characterisations, though not his world building. In comparison his characters appeared two dimensional but his worlds were well drawn and believeable. I just couldn't maintain interest and the struggle to read got too much.
I have only read The Lost Child. I enjoyed the book and liked how she approached her story from different angles and still did not reveal the full extent of the plot, though some twists were glaringly obvious ( ex. reunited brothers). It showed up the author in a good light, her potential so to speak. Would keep reading her.
Hope that helps
July 30th, 2005, 11:44 AM
Yeehee, this is fun. Okay, let's add the following to the list, more to come:
And Paolini who?
July 30th, 2005, 12:07 PM
The slugs have gone mad!
That would be Christopher Paolini, and the book would be Eragon. I bought the first version (published by his family's press) during all of the hype for it. It got a lot of acclaim here in Montana because he was 15 when he started writing it. My feelings on that are that it shows, and a little too much. I've never managed to read past the first 70 pages because I got bogged down by all the -ly adverbs. Just about every sentence has one, and it makes reading tedious. To be fair, I've never tried the newer version, which was edited when a big publishing company bought the rights to the book.
July 30th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Ah, I'd forgotten his name. "Eragorn" is YA fiction, for those who are interested. My niece liked it well enough and she's read quite a bit of YA fantasy. I haven't read him yet.
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