Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fantasy and Science Fiction Writer's Day - June 23rd

I've been sitting here all day trying to figure out what I was going to write about for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writer's Day. As you can probably tell by my blog header, I'm a pretty big fan of fantasy!! But that hasn't always been the case. In fact, until about 4 years ago, my reading habits were vastly different. I seem to go through phases. I know a lot of fantasy readers grew up with the Narnia books or Tolkien. But I never read them (still haven't, if you can believe that!) I was actually into mysteries....Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and later Agatha Christie. I SO wanted to be a female sleuth! But then I picked up the book Carrie by Stephen King, and my future reading path was forever changed.

Later on, I read tons of "Chick Lit" and best sellers. I even went through a classics phase. Then an online book club I was in picked the book The Little Country by Charles de Lint. This a beautiful fantasy story that dealt with music, a mysterious manuscript, and magic. And I loved it!! So much so, that I started to hunt up books with the same magical themes.

It wasn't too much later I started this blog and found out there were tons of people that liked the same kind of books as I do! Today my reading is a bit eclectic...on top of the fantasy and sci-fi, I find myself picking up Classics, Young Adult literature, literary fiction, chick lit, and even the occasional memoir. But book blogging has definitely helped my love for fantasy evolve. I have made quite a few friends here whose love for fantasy have increased my TBR list from, well an actual list, to PILES of books! Not only that, blogging has brought me some new Favorite authors. Included in this list are Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Melissa Marr....and the top notch Neil Gaiman. One of the first books I read when I started blogging was American Gods. Neil Gaiman really rocks my world. With such wonderful stories and beautiful prose, I can't help but admire and love him. In fact, my literary crush on Mr. Gaiman grows with each book I read! If I had to list my favorite fantasy reads ever, I'm sure the top 5 would all be Gaiman's!

So, what is the difference between fantasy and science fiction? I've asked myself that alot. I looked up the definitions in Wikipedia: Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (collectively known as speculative fiction). I read all 3, although the books I tend to really love seem to fall more into the "fantasy" category. But I do read the occasional sci-fi novel. One of the best that I have read is The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. But I do realize I'm seriously lacking in reading some of the masters like Robert Heinlein, Philip Dick, and Isaac Asimov just to name a few. One of my goals in reading for the next couple of years is to remedy this situation and expand my reading to more sci-fi.

I realize this post is kind of rambling. Not really much to it. But I just wanted to bring to light on this "special" day my love for fantasy and share a little about it. Now, if you'd really like to help me out, give me some tips. What authors, fantasy or sci-fi am I missing? What authors can you not live without? What are some of your favorite books? I really don't need to add any more to my list...but I'm going to try to do just that!!

I guess I will add a list of my 10 Favorite Fantasy books (or series, as fantasy tends to run in either Trilogies or series):

  • 1. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  • 2. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
  • 3. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
  • 4. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
  • 5. The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
  • 6. The Mercy Thompson Series - Patricia Briggs
  • 7. The Dresden Files Series - Jim Butcher
  • 8. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  • 9. Memory and Dream - Charles de Lint
  • 10. The Dark Tower Series - Stephen King

OK, so only the top 4 were Gaiman. I stand corrected!! I think this is a list I'd like to revisit at the end of the year to see if it's changed. Then maybe again at the end of next year, and the year after that....and so on. The books may change, but the love for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and Speculative Fiction never will!


Debi said...

I pretty have Carl, and from there, all of you, for my recent love of fantasy. Annie, who loves to read just about anything under the sun, does have a special fondness for fantasy...and when I first ran across Carl's OUaT, I figured that would be a fun way to do something with Annie. Little did I know the doors signing up for that one special challenge would open. :D

Susie Sharp Librarian said...

I'm Reading Mercy Thompason right now and love it!But the author you don't mention is David Eddings he is(was he just passed away this month)the reason I started reading fantasy!

Kailana said...

You have never read C.S. Lewis OR Tolkien? For shame, there, Stephanie! lol Just kidding. I do think you should read The Chronicles of Narnia, though. I am one of those that grew up on those books. I should do a reread. I say that every year!

I have always read fantasy and sci-fi. It's other genres that I read more than I used to. Great post! I am glad you came into fantasy, though, because then we can be fantasy nerds together!

samantha.1020 said...

I find myself enjoying fantasy more and more. I'm reading Summer Knight by Jim Butcher right now and am enjoying it of course :)

Kim L said...

Well if you haven't read Fables yet, you definitely should! For fantasy, I recommend Garth Nix's Abhorsen series, Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, and yes definitely read Tolkien and Narnia.

For sci fi, I've been really enjoying John Scalzi's books. If you read anything by Asimov, get one of his short story collections. He was not much of a novelist (in my opinion) but he was the master of the short story. I, Robot, is a great example.

Now I have to take some of your recommendations and add them to my list! I also love sci fi/fantasy, but there are also plenty of authors I need to learn more about.

Marg said...

I had read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings but that was about it with my fantasy reading. I probably started back on it with The Little Country as well.

DesLily said...

The Hobbit started me off and I've never looked back!.. my favorites are still the authors I began with back then, but I've added newer authors of course! My absolute top of the mark favorites though will always be Ann McCaffrey's Pern books.

Tiina said...

For fantasy I would suggest Mercedes Lackey. I especially like her "The Fire Rose", it's not typical fantasy though. For sci-fi both the Serrano legacy - and Vatta's war -series by Elizabeth Moon. And anything by Ursula Le Guin, sci-fi or fantasy. Also, if you would like to try some alternative history, I would suggest Sophia McDougall's Romanitas and its sequal Rome Burning.


Nymeth said...

lol, I love your top 4 :P My fantasy recommendations are Ursula Le Guin's Annals of the Western Shore trilogy and Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

I'd also suggest Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books, but a little bird told me you and Kailana are already planing to read them, so I won't :P

Stephanie said...

Nymeth - Ah....a little bird, huh?? As a matter of fact, I put an ILL hold on Books 1 and 3, just about an hour ago! For some stupid reason, MY library only has book #2!! I've so been wanting to read Discworld, but it's a little intimidating. I was never really sure where to start!

Amy said...

I have eclectic taste like you! I do like fantasy more these days in particular urban fantasy because it doesn't tax my powers of imagination as much. I really want to read the dresden files.

Carl V. said...

I too didn't grow up reading C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. I remember liking the concepts of fantasy as far back as I can recall, but my first recollection of really grabbing onto the genre and loving it was being given the first of the Riddle-Master books by Patricia A. McKillip. I loved that trilogy and still do today. She continues to be one of my favorite writers.

I am glad that the Lord of the Rings films spurred me on to read Tolkien's work. I'm sure there are good arguments on each side of the issue, but coming to it as an adult made me appreciate it in ways I never would have as an adult. I was able to appreciate it for the work itself, the same way I do the films, but also for the craftsmanship and dedication that went in to creating it. I appreciate the books and the films for that...they each represent the the fulfillment of a life's passion and I admire the creators for that reason.

Wonderful post Stephanie.

Darla D said...

The Little Country was my first de Lint, too. I loved it and became an immediate fan, and I still am. One thing I love about helping kids at the library is that they are so much more open to reading different kinds of books than most adults. So many adults would never consider reading a YA or children's book, and rarely dip out of their comfort range (contemporary fiction bestsellers, mysteries, horror, chicklit, whatever). I think it's great that you've done so much literary exploring. Fantasy will always be my favorite. :-)

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