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August 5th, 2009

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02:06 am - Well deserved literary prowess & musings on recent fantasy
The list of nominees for the World Fantasy Awards is out. I read considerably more SF than fantasy, but I also greatly appreciate well-written fantasy. The first thing that struck me on that list was that the single best short story that I've read in several years is on it. "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" by Kij Johnson (go and read it, it's vastly better than anything I could write in this post). It's the most humane, kind, and wonderful piece of fiction that I've seen in a while, and to me the world is a better place because it was written. I very much hope it wins.

I also looked at the list of nominees for novels. Of the five, I've read one The House of the Stag, by Kage Baker, which I very much enjoyed. It's not a great novel, but it's definitely a quite good one. Then, I looked over the other four books, to see if there was anything that looked like I would enjoy it. The Neil Gaiman novel went right off the list. I haven't liked anything of his since American Gods, and think he was a far better comics writers than novelist. Then you have three novels that I haven't heard of, by three novelists that I've never heard of - Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, & Daryl Gregory. The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford is definitely not for me. From both the description and looking at a few of his shorter works available on-line, I can't make any judgment as to the quality of his work beyond that fact that it's not to my taste. In contrast, I was rather appalled by what I read about Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan - it's a young adult novel filled with rape and brutality, and seems like the sort of book that adults seem to enjoy foisting on young people on the assumption that reading books about how unpleasant the world is, in some way builds character (shudder).

The last of these three novels, Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory initially did not strike my fancy - a world like our own, but where demonic possession has been documented for the past 40+ years sounded at best vaguely interesting and more like just-another-grim-horror-novel. Reading further in the review and finding that "demons" was a term that also included tights-wearing heroes, unforgiving gun-toting avengers, and other equally cinematic archetypes caused me to put it on hold at the library - I'll likely buy it if it's as good as it looks like it might be.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 09:53 am (UTC)
I love that story. I couldn't work out how on earth it was going to end, and then when it did it both surprised and delighted me.
[User Picture]
Date:August 6th, 2009 05:36 am (UTC)
Wow. In much the same way that subatomic particles have antiparticles with all the same physical properties but opposite charge, #24 was like getting hit in the face with an anti-sledgehammer.
[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
I liked Pandemonium a lot. It's wonderfully geekish, very clever, and has some very scary bits.
[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Would you classify it more as horror (which I do my best to avoid) or urban fantasy (which I quite like)?
[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
I feel like I'll be happy reading Neil again when his daughter grows up and he gets around to writing stories for and about adults again. I vaguely liked Anansi Boys but haven't really been able to care about anything since American Gods, myself, either.

Thank you so much for sharing the Monkeys story. I agree that the world with that story in it is a much better place. Not everything has to be grim to be good, and I wish my favourite genres would learn that.
[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Not everything has to be grim to be good, and I wish my favourite genres would learn that.

Gods yes - these days I'd extend that to the fact that grim is rarely good.
[User Picture]
Date:August 6th, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)
Why do adults foist grim stuff on children? If the child likes grim stuff, like I did, that's one thing. The child will seek out said stuff. Forcing children to read grim stuff can only drive them around the bend.

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