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I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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One of my favorite fantasy authors of all time is Ursula K. LeGuin. I've been re-reading 'Tales From Earthsea' the last couple days, and am struck again by how very much I like her way of telling these stories (Earthsea was the first fantasy series I read): the magic is interestingly handled (and seems just 'right'), the narrative flow is smooth, the descriptions engrossing. My recollection of reading the first book includes being on BART to go to Berkeley, and winding up in El Cerrito del Norte station because I was just THAT TANGLED UP in the conversation with the dragon.

Does anyone have suggestions of authors I might enjoy if I've enjoyed LeGuin's Earthsea quintet? This is your chance to play Amazon for me, baby (but do it with a brain).
  • i'm not sure if i can justify the way this suggestion popped into my head, but you're totoally familiar with haruki murakami, right?

    i never feel like i'm qualified to recommend books to you; you already know all the authors i'm inclined to name.

    actually, duh!

    i've been meaning to ask if you've read the book i'm reading right now, partly because it's set in manila... the tesseract by alex garland (sam e guy who wrote the beach, basis for the screenplay).

    have you? if not, it's nothing whatsoever like leguin but i would recommend it for some other time...and i'd like to get your impressions re: manila in your experience and in the novel.
    • I don't know why my wife owned a shotgun. Or a ski mask. Neither of us ski. But I didn't ask, and she didn't tell me. Married life is weird, I thought.
      --'The Second Bakery Attack', Haruki Murakami

      Love this guy. :) Will investigate The Tesseract.
      could I enlist your aid in pestering the housemate to read Tim Powers (noteably Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather)? I just read them and am still agog at how VERY San Francisco Earthquake Weather is.
      • Re:

        one of my all-time favorite authors, tim powers.

        he researches the FUCK out of anything he's going to write...and it makes his familiarity with the subject matter seem completely effortless, like he's lived in the book he's writing for years.

        last call is actually my recommendation first, because it gives a lot more dimension to the other two you mention.

        hello, a wacky/scary/funny/deep novel about archetypes and practical-magic/superstition affecting an alcoholic with a wacky neighbor, all set in las vegas with a little bit of santa ana, california thrown in? poker/tarot anyone? ooh, yeah. his scariest characters are often his funniest. oh, why'd you get me started? seriously, though. i would be happy to help. everybody i know who likes good books should read this stuff.

        powers rocks around the block.

        on a related note: you know i still haven't ever gotten around to reading the stress of her regard?

        and another one...have you read declare? did you catch teh joke, very early on, with the letter opener? did we already have this conversation?
        • Do you own a copy of _Stress of her Regard_? Have you read _Dinner at Deviant's Palace_?

          For some reason, I had missed that both of these were the same Tim Powers as the now-Tim-Powers. Funky.
          • Re:

            no and yes. :)

            i have never run across a used copy of the former, and i mostly buy used. i do have a copy of the latter.

            you read blaylock, right?

            his and powers' "magic," when it appears in their works, strikes me as feeling very right, in the same way as leguin's, though they use very different settings.
            • I've...hrm. I have tried very hard to like Blaylock. So far I have yet to succeed.
              • Re:

                were you trying his steampunk? because while steampunk is all well and good, i really think his suburban weirdness stuff (the last coin or all the bells on earth, for instance) is much stronger. and his somewhere-else fantasy, with dwarves and goblins and such, is hilarious if you go for that sort of thing, and not as successful otherwise.
  • http://www.brightweavings.com/ - Guy Gavriel Kay, anything but especially 'The Fionaver Tapestry'

    http://www.annebishop.com/ - Anne Bishop

    Possibly Jane Yolen - http://www.janeyolen.com (She's counted as a YA writer, but I like her stuff: Might serve as light reading)

    -Possibly- Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' -


  • I liked the "Time Master Trilogy" by Louise Cooper. A bit darker toned than LeGuin, but engaging and thought provoking. I read the whole trilogy, one book per day.

    On the longer side of things, Melanie Rawn's "Dragon Prince" trilogy is excellent. Very detailed and well written. Not a lot of magic or fantastic creatures. I think these books are excellent cultural studies.

    The best fantasy novels I have read in the past few years are the "Song of Ice and Fire" books by George R.R. Martin. Unbelievable. I have never had an eight hundred page book pull me through so powerfully as with "The Game of Thrones." Fair warning: do not start unless you have lots and lots of time. There are so many characters it gets confusing. I have vowed to reread the books and actually take notes. They're that good!

    hope this helps....

    • Heh.

      I begin to suspect that I am definitely hard to recommend books to. :)
      I've read everything recommended above, sadly. They're all fairly solid bits of work (and I trumpet Song of Ice and Fire to heaven and earth, if only because I think we need more fantasy that's a retelling of the War of the Roses with the Lancasters and the Stark-- er, the Lannisters and the Yorks, er...)
      What I'm honestly looking for at the moment is that particular... Earthsea touch, in the same way that the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy by GGKay carries the Tolkien touch. Sure, these are all fantasy authors. I like Alexandre Dumas; should I therefore have Jean-Paul Sartre's fiction recommended to me, since they're both French?
      What I'm looking for is something inspired by the very... human face LeGuin puts on her imaginary world. Ged, Tehanu, Arha, these are real people- not just fictional twodimensional Asimovian cut-outs. Martin does pull off less-than-amateurish characterization, but...
      • Re: Heh.

        Yeah, I should have known....

        Thanks for pointing out the historical reference in Martin's work (ah, ignorance...) Are there any good sites about Song of Ice and Fire?

        I understand that it's hard to get just the right touch when it comes to approaching LeGuin. That's what makes a classic writer a classic writer.

        She wrote a good non-fiction book called The Language of the Night.

        Here's a journal entry from 1987
        • Re: Heh.

          You know, I'm sure you already know that.... I've been out of the fantasy reading habit for *way* too long. I get crazy and start tackling "reality:" politicsofslack Fantasy is much better.
  • I'm a great fan of LeGuin, so I'm qualified to comment on your post :)

    I don't know you, but I find it hard to posit that anyone who's as well read as you are and lists 'gay,' 'fucking,' and 'speculative fiction' as interests has somehow missed Samuel Delany, so I'll omit him. He's the only other author I've run across in SF who's so deft with character, and I suspect it's because they both bring a very social-sciences eye to the construction of their stories.

    Tanith Lee writes potboilers, but she occasionally has her moments. You have to wade through a lot of schlock to get there, though. I don't have a particular title to recommend - you can pretty much start anywhere and figure her out.

    Have you looked into Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series? The characters are perhaps less intrinsically fascinating, but they are finely rendered.

    Do look into the rest of LeGuin's work - The Lathe of Heaven, The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, and the incredible collection of short stories "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea," which leaves me boggling anew each time I read it. Also check out 'Always Coming Home,' a mock-"future ethnography" which compensates for its lack of linear plot by being deep and rewarding.

    Bah. I was hoping to do better for you, at least recommend someone you hadn't heard of. No such luck, sorry.
    • Yes, I do indeed own a ridiculous amount of Delany (Just about everything he's ever had published); I fell into Delany by way of a friend from a local BBS who had helped copyedit Return to Neveryona (an utterly Sisyphean task, from all he had to say). Truth be told, I hadn't ever really contemplated that he and LeGuin had a close relationship in re: how they build character. That said, I can see it quite clearly. Just hadn't ever thought of that relationship, but now, it's in 50' high flaming letters. Heh.
      Hmmmn. I may browse around Tanith Lee again: I've certainly enjoyed some of her work. Unfamiliar with O'Brian completely, so that might actually be a good choice.
      You, like netdancer, came up with someone I'd not read, so. Thank you! :)
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