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  1. #1

    Fantasy by people who understand the occult not set on earth?

    It's starting to feel pointless, and this will probably last thread I post about this. Are there any fantasy authors out there who have an actual understanding of the occult out there? Any who have written about a world informed by this that is not urban fantasy or at least not an alternate version of earth or the mythologies of earth? To be frank I've grown rather disenchanted with the "it's in the blood" or "just because" explanations and the ever so irritating "it's like an earthly science we don't understand" attitude that seems to permeate so much of fantasy these days. I'm not just talking about borrowed mythology either.

  2. #2
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Occult is a very big word Riothamus. It contains many different cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and philosophies. What you are asking is are there any fantasy authors who have studied the exact same occult issues I have and used them in a fictional story that does not take place on earth and has nothing to do with any mythologies of Earth (which most occultist beliefs actually do,) which is not a question we are likely to be able to answer for you. You would have much better luck going to an occultist and asking that question, and checking out whether occult presses are putting out any fiction. Most occultists, whatever their tradition, tend to write books about occultism, not fictional novels. You can try Liz Williams, whose main business is owning an occult shop, but I'm not sure her series will give you what you want (one of them is in an alternate, future Earth.) You could try the Illuminatus trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, who considered himself a mystic, and Robert Shea. I think you would find Kameron Hurley's God's War interesting, but not as an occult book divorced from Earth, (it does have a matriarchy though.)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Occult is a very big word Riothamus. It contains many different cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and philosophies. What you are asking is are there any fantasy authors who have studied the exact same occult issues I have and used them in a fictional story that does not take place on earth and has nothing to do with any mythologies of Earth (which most occultist beliefs actually do,) which is not a question we are likely to be able to answer for you. You would have much better luck going to an occultist and asking that question, and checking out whether occult presses are putting out any fiction. Most occultists, whatever their tradition, tend to write books about occultism, not fictional novels. You can try Liz Williams, whose main business is owning an occult shop, but I'm not sure her series will give you what you want (one of them is in an alternate, future Earth.) You could try the Illuminatus trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, who considered himself a mystic, and Robert Shea. I think you would find Kameron Hurley's God's War interesting, but not as an occult book divorced from Earth, (it does have a matriarchy though.)
    It doesn't take much effort to borrow and recombine elements of varying mythologies and systems of belief to come up with something similar but not the same as those of earth.One can borrow ideas without making a thinly veiled version of one from our world.It seems to be sadly true in some ways. It just seems like I can't find any examples of anything I'm looking for these days. X_X

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    Registered User StephenPorter's Avatar
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    I must confess, I'm not quite sure what distinction you are making between occult and mythology. To my mind they are very similar if not synonymous. Are you looking for a well defined magic system? Then Brandon Sanderson comes to mind. Is it a diverse pantheon of deities that are not overtly based on actual mythology? That sounds like Steven Erickson's territory, or perhaps Raymond Feist or Tamora Pierce. I don't think those are what you're asking for, but I'm not quite sure what you are asking.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by StephenPorter View Post
    I must confess, I'm not quite sure what distinction you are making between occult and mythology. To my mind they are very similar if not synonymous. Are you looking for a well defined magic system? Then Brandon Sanderson comes to mind. Is it a diverse pantheon of deities that are not overtly based on actual mythology? That sounds like Steven Erickson's territory, or perhaps Raymond Feist or Tamora Pierce. I don't think those are what you're asking for, but I'm not quite sure what you are asking.
    The two are heavily linked, but what I'm saying is that I'm not talking about stories set in any mythology from our world. It might resemble it in some way, but I'm talking about ones where no matter how much is borrowed it is not a replica of a real world mythology. Also Erickson's Malazan series doesn't really rub me the right way. :/
    Last edited by Riothamus; March 17th, 2013 at 12:22 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User Michael V. R.'s Avatar
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    Your post made me think of Katherine Kurtz, most well known for her Deryni novels. I haven't read any of those, but her book Lammas Night made me think she'd done her homework on the occult. And i THINK her Adapt series is set in the same world, and probably has similar stuff. It's set in the time of WWII. Lammas Night is a great book.

    Edit: This is NOT an easy book to find...

  7. #7
    Registered User StephenPorter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    The two are heavily linked, but what I'm saying is that I'm not talking about stories set in any mythology from our world. It might resemble it in some way, but I'm talking about ones where no matter how much is borrowed it is not a replica of a real world mythology. Also Erickson's Malazan series doesn't really rub me the right way. :/
    Then maybe Feist is close to what you're looking for. His novels have a rather in depth collection of gods and goddesses that the characters worship, and they get involved in human affairs from time to time. None of them are overtly based on any particular real world mythology, and there is a huge history to them. The series can occasionally turn philosophical about the nature of magic as the characters discover new depths to the history of the gods and the nature of the universe.

    Tamora Pierce also has a similar approach with her Tortall books, but not to the same degree that Feist does. Her two Trickster novels are perhaps where this comes out the strongest, but her Tortall books probably ought to be read in order, which would start off with the Song of the Lioness quartet. She's a YA author, but don't let that stop you. She's an old hand at this, and a long ways away from the angst riddled tripe that dominates that market today.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by StephenPorter View Post
    I must confess, I'm not quite sure what distinction you are making between occult and mythology. To my mind they are very similar if not synonymous. Are you looking for a well defined magic system? Then Brandon Sanderson comes to mind. Is it a diverse pantheon of deities that are not overtly based on actual mythology? That sounds like Steven Erickson's territory, or perhaps Raymond Feist or Tamora Pierce. I don't think those are what you're asking for, but I'm not quite sure what you are asking.
    The two are heavily connected but mythology describes the general lay out and important myths. Th occult is more concerned with philosophical elements, the inner workings, and finer points of a pattern of belief and is explicitly linked to magic. It is the quantum physics of religion if you will. In a way I'm looking for both. I must also be clear that I like cultural diversity that actually seems diverse and polytheism that is not composed of a bunch of monotheistic cults people try to pass off as polytheism.

  9. #9
    You would be better off going the horror route.

    Richard Gavin's work is excellent!

    'Course of the Heart' by M John Harrison is worth reading.

    Also try 'Erbeth Transmissions' and 'Bright from the Well'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    It's starting to feel pointless, and this will probably last thread I post about this. Are there any fantasy authors out there who have an actual understanding of the occult out there? Any who have written about a world informed by this that is not urban fantasy or at least not an alternate version of earth or the mythologies of earth? To be frank I've grown rather disenchanted with the "it's in the blood" or "just because" explanations and the ever so irritating "it's like an earthly science we don't understand" attitude that seems to permeate so much of fantasy these days. I'm not just talking about borrowed mythology either.

  10. #10
    But are they set in our universe, on earth, or some alternate version of our universe?Because that's sort of what I'm not looking for right now.
    Last edited by Riothamus; March 17th, 2013 at 09:27 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    But are they set in our universe, on earth, or some alternate version of our universe?Because that's sort of what I'm not looking for right now.
    Just trying to provide some alternatives.

    Try 'Etched City' by KJ Bishop or 'Orphan's Tales' by Valente.

  12. #12
    Take a shot at Zachary Jernigan's No Return. Lots of philosophical religious and mythological twisting going on in this one.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Marquitz View Post
    Take a shot at Zachary Jernigan's No Return. Lots of philosophical religious and mythological twisting going on in this one.
    Hmmm...If the description does not mislead me it may just be in the vein of what I seek.I'm not certain, but at the very least it could be interesting.
    Last edited by Riothamus; March 18th, 2013 at 03:36 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by StephenPorter View Post
    Then maybe Feist is close to what you're looking for. His novels have a rather in depth collection of gods and goddesses that the characters worship, and they get involved in human affairs from time to time. None of them are overtly based on any particular real world mythology, and there is a huge history to them. The series can occasionally turn philosophical about the nature of magic as the characters discover new depths to the history of the gods and the nature of the universe.

    Tamora Pierce also has a similar approach with her Tortall books, but not to the same degree that Feist does. Her two Trickster novels are perhaps where this comes out the strongest, but her Tortall books probably ought to be read in order, which would start off with the Song of the Lioness quartet. She's a YA author, but don't let that stop you. She's an old hand at this, and a long ways away from the angst riddled tripe that dominates that market today.
    Well it's not just mythology. A well defined magic system is sort of what I'm looking for, however Sanderson's Mistborn series fails to grasp it's finer points. That and the lack of cultural diversity doesn't endear itself to me. I want to feel like if you took out of the fantasy and it were written more in a real world occult manual style it would hardly be distinguishable in many ways.

  15. #15
    Sorry double post. X_X

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