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What are you reading/watching these days?

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 5:45 PM EST

    I read The Infernal City not too long ago, although I haven't read Lord of Souls yet.  Greg Keyes' other original novels are much better writing in my opinion - I read the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, which I really enjoyed.

    On a tangentially related topic, I was thinking about the Dune series today - those are some of my favorite books ever, if you haven't read them.  I am of the opinion that, like LOTR, everyone should read them at least once in their lives.  Frank Herbert was a genius.  

    China Mieville and Jeff Van Der Meer are super bizarre authors, and not to everyone's taste, but I think they're brilliant.  Mieville's The Scar is set on an island composed of lashed-together pirate ships, with an indigenous tribe of vampires along with the human pirates.  Part of the main story involves a humongous sea monster called an avanc.  Also one of my favorite books ever.  

    If you're OK with gory horror involving completely unique and invented monsters, Clive Barker is a genius.  Anything and everything he wrote before, oh, 2000, is excellent.  My favorite is Imajica, but Books of Blood (short stories) is amazing, as is Weaveworld.

    If none of those sound quite like your cup of tea, when I run out of suggestions, I usually check the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Prize listings for stuff that sounds interesting. I discovered all sorts of amazing authors that way - Jack Vance, Brian Aldiss, Gene Wolfe, tons of good stuff.

    If you're in the mood for non-genre fiction, the Booker Prize listings are good, too.

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 5:47 PM EST

    I read, oh, maybe ten of the twelve or thirteen, and then I got bored with all the detail.  It is very, very different from LOTR once you get out of the first book or two, and there's a lot of inventive metaphysics around his use of magic, which I like.  The characters are extremely well-developed, but there are four million of them - Jordan was even worse about that than GRRM.  The plot does get interesting and original enough to keep you reading, but his prose is very dense.

    • 291 posts
    January 8, 2014 5:55 PM EST

    Right now I'm on a Taoist philosophy kick.  I'm reading Understanding Reality by Po-Tuan Chang.  After which I'll read The Esoteric Tao Teh Ching by Hua Ching Ni.

    Then I'll get back to A Song of Ice and Fire...where I'll start the second book. ^^

    I'm also watching the Game of Thrones TV series, and House of Cards.   House of Cards is sooooo good.

  • Jen
    • 88 posts
    January 8, 2014 6:01 PM EST

    Clive Barker is one of my favorite authors, the Books of Blood, Imajica, Cabal, The Great and Secret Show and Weaveworld are my favorites. But he is definitely not for everyone. 

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 6:05 PM EST

    ooh, interesting! One of my undergrad majors was in Religious Studies, but my main focus has been mostly Middle Eastern religion and philosophy, and more recently modern French and German philosophy and literary theory. I read a bit about various East Asian philosophies for a while, but I've gotten pretty far away from it.  I never read much on Taoism besides a couple of translations of the Tao Te Ching. I read some Tibetan Buddhist stuff, bits of the Analects, some martial arts philosophy - the Hagakure, the Art of War. [Not to lump all these things together, of course.]  I'd love to know how those two books are when you're finished.

    • 291 posts
    January 8, 2014 6:06 PM EST

    Definitely.  If I remember, I'll reply here. ^^

    • 149 posts
    January 8, 2014 6:42 PM EST

    I see. I'll have to take a look at some of these.

    Interesting that you should mention Clive Barker... I've been playing a video game as of late: Clive Barker's Undying, an old pc title from 2003. I understand Barker didn't actually produce any of the game's writing - he only provided feedback and input toward the story - but it has still kept my interest. Maybe I'll see what some of his actual written works have to offer.

    • 194 posts
    January 8, 2014 7:18 PM EST

    Thanks. Also, as a novice reader (I'm pretty slow), are there any recommendations for books between LOTR and Wot? How does Martin compare as far as length goes? Other authors?

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 7:23 PM EST

    I loved Undying!!!  I wasn't able to finish playing it - that, combined with some very dark real life stuff, fueled a run of insomnia and nightmares, so I had to lay off the horror games and movies for a while.  But it was so good!  

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 7:54 PM EST

    Martin is pretty long too, but not as ridiculous as Jordan, and his writing isn't as complicated to plow through. With GRRM you can read in chapter-long chunks and put it down, because he swaps character point of view for each one, and there's plenty of action and drama.  He writes TV scripts, too, so he really gets the idea of pacing to keep reader interest. Jordan, and Tolkien, weren't really thinking about that so much.  

    Hmm, length.  There's a guy named Ted Chiang who writes the most amazing science-fiction short stories, like little jewels, each one completely perfect and self-contained.  Short stories are hard to write well, in my opinion, but he's incredible.

    I highly recommend Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea as a book everyone should read.  Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven are excellent as well.

    Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter was also an excellent book, about dragon riders in a post-apocalyptic world.  

    If you especially want sword and sorcery, try Terry Brooks and the Shannara series, or David Eddings with the Belgariad.  Much lighter reading, not so complicated, but with very enjoyable characters, settings and action. For dragons, try Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, or Andre Norton, or Anne McCaffrey.  

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 7:56 PM EST

    You might want to try short story anthologies too - most libraries have fantasy or science fiction story collections.  It's a good way to find authors you like.

  • Kuz
    • 18 posts
    January 8, 2014 8:21 PM EST

    I second the Belgariad and its squeal the Mallorian (sp). Great characters and a nice in between length. it is definitely worth reading.

  • Kuz
    • 18 posts
    January 8, 2014 8:27 PM EST

    right now im part way through The Malazan book of the Fallen series. Its got nice background history and story, but keeping up with the multitude of characters is hard at times, luckily there is a nice glossary at the beginning of the all books for you to reference.

    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 8:55 PM EST

    Wow, those look great!  I'll have to check them out!  I've been meaning to read Glen Cook's Black Company series too…sounds like they've got some stuff in common.

    • 149 posts
    January 8, 2014 9:19 PM EST

    My thoughts exactly. I saw it on sale during Christmas on Had to play it again for old times sake. :)