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  1. #1
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    What do you want to see in your genre fiction?

    Hello Everyone!

    I have a question.

    First, a bit of background. Recently, I've become enamored of Malon Edwards Half Dark world. He wrote a short story set in his Half Dark world that was included in Tim Marquitz' Four in the Morning anthology (2012?) and just recently another story set in that same world appeared in the latest issue of Shimmer (ezine) (also by Malon Edwards).

    Anyway, the point is that I really really like the mix of steam-punk, voodoo, Chicago's hard streets, creole, school-yard taunts, fairies, gods, mermaids, boys with chin-chins and you-name-it that Mr. Edwards threw into his world. It is truly mesmerizing and it is so unlike anything I've read in more "traditional" fantasy (or science fiction, though I suspect there's more experiments like this in science fiction than fantasy). I think Michael Swanwick's King Dragon short story (which was amazing, too) comes close to the other-worldness that Edwards evokes in his Half Dark world.

    I'd like to read more genre fiction like this, but I often hear that that, that otherness, is not what most readers want to read.

    So, I'm here to ask you, the readers, what is it about fantasy and science fiction that you do love to see in your fiction and want to see more of?

    If you want more of the same, but different, so say. If not, then what?

  2. #2
    Registered User JimF's Avatar
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    I mainly read SF and one thing I really like is a sense of wonder. I was about 12 when I stumbled across Ringworld in a book store in the 70's and was totally captivated by the idea. I plunked down my allowance and skipped off home. (ok not literally) but all my favorite books must have some sense wonder or Exploration of something new.

    I also like interesting characters doing interesting things. I recently read The Goliath Stone by Niven and Harrington and it was dreadful. The Idea for the story seemed great, but about half the book was two characters talking to each other about what other people were doing.

    I like the tech to somewhat realistic with handwavium at a minimum.

    But sometimes I like a rollicking adventure with hyperspace and blasters.

    So basically, wonder, interesting characters, realistic tech and adventure. I just read the 4 books of Expanse Series and that pretty much covered all those bases.

    Jim

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    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF View Post
    So basically, wonder, interesting characters, realistic tech and adventure. I just read the 4 books of Expanse Series and that pretty much covered all those bases.
    Thanks, Jim!

    The Expanse series just got on my radar. I'll check them out for sure now.

    I think you are right about the aspect of 'wonder'. I think that along with the unexpected really draw me into a story. I also seem to like an element of danger (sinister danger). I was just recalling that GRRM's and Dozios' (sp?) Hunter's Run also had that sense of wonder (new world the clone had to travel through) and dangerous adventure (the alien robotic thing was SCARY).

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF View Post

    So basically, wonder, interesting characters, realistic tech and adventure. I just read the 4 books of Expanse Series and that pretty much covered all those bases.

    Jim
    I'm a Sci/fi guy myself and I'm currently moving into book 2 of The Expanse series. I have to say, it's definitely the best Sci/Fi adventure I've seen come around in a long time. The sense of wonder you speak of is definitely present. I think it comes down to a dynamic world, that lives beyond the story being told. A world that sucks you in and makes you want to live within it. It's these types of worlds that house the most resilient/long lasting story franchises...where people just can't get enough.

    I think when it comes to fantasy, a lot of authors fall into the Tolkien trap....and you really can't top Tolkien! It's tough to find (at least in my search) an enemy that's not a "Dark Lord", an evil foot soldier that's not an "orc", a woodland creature that's not an "elf", and a sense of magic without some sort of "mage" with a pointy hat. There are exceptions to this, but I find that more so than not, fantasy authors fall into this Tolkien trap. It's one of the things that make me apprehensive about trying a new fantasy book.

    All that being said, the last fantasy book i read, The Child Theif, was a dark fantasy by Brom, and I loved it. Sure some of these tropes were evident, but there was just something about Brom's writing that was poetic and he really did suck me in his world. I guess you could say that he created that sense of wonder mentioned above. I can't wait to pick up his next one- Krampus: The Yule Lord!

  5. #5
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devin McDonnell View Post
    ...The Child Theif, was a dark fantasy by Brom, and I loved it.
    Oh! I'm a big fan of Brom's art, and I knew he wrote, but I haven't read any of his work...another book on the list to read...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devin McDonnell View Post
    (snippage)

    I think when it comes to fantasy, a lot of authors fall into the Tolkien trap....and you really can't top Tolkien! It's tough to find (at least in my search) an enemy that's not a "Dark Lord", an evil foot soldier that's not an "orc", a woodland creature that's not an "elf", and a sense of magic without some sort of "mage" with a pointy hat. There are exceptions to this, but I find that more so than not, fantasy authors fall into this Tolkien trap. It's one of the things that make me apprehensive about trying a new fantasy book.
    (snippage)
    If you want some very different fantasy, try Glenda Larke's The Lascar's Dagger. No orcs, no elves, plenty of very different magic, excellent writing, intriguing characters and cultures. Kate Elliott's "Spiritwalker Trilogy" she describes as "This Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure has a gaslamp setting complete with revolution, Phoenician spies, and dinosaur lawyers." Also brilliant writing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by N. E. White View Post
    Hello Everyone!

    I have a question.

    First, a bit of background. Recently, I've become enamored of Malon Edwards Half Dark world. He wrote a short story set in his Half Dark world that was included in Tim Marquitz' Four in the Morning anthology (2012?) and just recently another story set in that same world appeared in the latest issue of Shimmer (ezine) (also by Malon Edwards).

    Anyway, the point is that I really really like the mix of steam-punk, voodoo, Chicago's hard streets, creole, school-yard taunts, fairies, gods, mermaids, boys with chin-chins and you-name-it that Mr. Edwards threw into his world. It is truly mesmerizing and it is so unlike anything I've read in more "traditional" fantasy (or science fiction, though I suspect there's more experiments like this in science fiction than fantasy). I think Michael Swanwick's King Dragon short story (which was amazing, too) comes close to the other-worldness that Edwards evokes in his Half Dark world.

    I'd like to read more genre fiction like this, but I often hear that that, that otherness, is not what most readers want to read.

    So, I'm here to ask you, the readers, what is it about fantasy and science fiction that you do love to see in your fiction and want to see more of?

    If you want more of the same, but different, so say. If not, then what?
    What do I want? A book that sucks me in, whirls me around, entertains me, makes me think by posing interesting questions and then not answering them (all, or any.) Interesting characters, which means several layers of complexity in the main and secondary characters (not happy with one complicated protagonist and a lot of simple sidekicks/enemies.) Characters with agency, not just shoved around by the writer, or drifting on the currents of fate. Realistic in interactions--a 16 yo does not act like a 70 yo, make decisions from the same motivations, etc. If there are humans, they will gossip, quarrel, have cliques, have dominance disputes, groups falling apart and groups coming together...they can't all be alike. I don't think evil is more interesting than good (usually it's banal and boring) so prefer flawed good characters.

    Settings...generally prefer rural to urban settings...the mean streets thing gets old fast, as does the cynicism that goes with that kind of book. Ho hum. Smaller communities, from a farm to a town to a ship (in space or at sea) interest me more, though I've read a lot of urban books. Like cultural complexity and diversity (defined in any of several ways.) A mix of beliefs (whether they are formalized as religion or not), a mix of political positions, a mix of economic classes, "natives" and "immigrants" and so on. Not necessarily a major character of each type, but recognition that such types exist, maybe only mentioned in conversation (depends on the story.) I want the invented setting to make sense, economically, politically, biologically, etc. People eat: where does the food come from and what is it? Who brings it? Who cooks it? People have waste--what happens to it? Who cleans the toilets? Who washes the dishes in the restaurant at the top of the tower? People get sick--with what? How? What then? People move around--how? In or on what? If mechanical, where did the resources to build it come from? How big is the industrial sector? Is it highly regarded or considered beneath social consideration? People are born into a culture...grow up in that or another one--does this show in the major and secondary characters? Is there some kind of connection from the individual to the whole society via a subculture (because, in our world, there always is.)

    So for me what I want is less defined by "something new" or "same old thing with a difference"...I'm not attracted by surface dazzle or fireside familiarity either one....it's the Aristotelian bones and guts of the book--the characters, the believability of the setting, the competence of the plot, and the emotional depth and variation...symphonic, not song-like...that I go for.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by E_Moon View Post
    ...I'm not attracted by surface dazzle or fireside familiarity either one....it's the Aristotelian bones and guts of the book--the characters, the believability of the setting, the competence of the plot, and the emotional depth and variation...symphonic, not song-like...
    Excellent, Ms. Moon!

    I think I like all those things in my fiction, too, though I'm okay with the author glossing over some of those things in favor of moving the story along. However, when I come down and think about it, my favorite authors are the ones that pay attention to the bones and guts. And when one does pay attention to those things, the complexities and diversity in characters, setting, religions, etc comes through.

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