Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hey Adam (part 2)

I'll just continue our earlier conversation here on what books to check out, if you want to know what's the state of speculative fiction nowadays and what good books (and right for you) are out there.

Unfortunately, as I've stated earlier, looking for the right books can be frustrating given that at least half of I've mentioned-- and will mention-- aren't available here. (Unless some Twilight Zone quantum wave deposits them in a mystical bookstore somewhere in Malate.)

But sometimes we get lucky and the local bookshops gets adventurous such that we find actual treasures. Remember that book I got you but which I can't remember the name, that only cost Php100 but in actuality had a price tag of Php1,000++? We were damn lucky then.

Still, if you ever come across any of Jeff Vandermeer's earlier Ministry of Whimsy anthologies, ranging from his Leviathan 1, 2 and 3-- as well as the compiled Mapping the Beast: The Best of Leviathan) and Album Zotique (which I think you'd really like with its surreal and decadent theme).

It's actually from these books that I've learned about surreal/weird-shit writers like Brendan Connell, Brian Evenson and Michael Cisco (who wrote The Tyrant and The San Veneficio Canon, the latter of which I have) and Zoran Zivkovic (who has a lot of books translated into English already but he's still damn hard to find here).

If you're thinking epic fantasy, you're in for a bit more luck: ever since the books of multi-series fantasy writers Terry Brooks and David Eddings hit the bookshelves, fantasy has been the most successful since J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about a hobbit and his hole. Fortunately, there's a lot of good epic fantasy out there and you can start by gorging on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series.

The good news is that if you like watching multi-threaded shows like HBO series like The Tudors and Rome, then this one is for you. (It's no surprise that HBO is already shooting the first book, A Game of Thrones.) Ask Carl about it, he's currently digging into it now. The bad news is that Martin is a glacially slow writer and it seems like the series will never be finished in our lifetime.

If you want some hard-hitting fantasy that turns a lot of fantasy tropes on its head-- plus, it's a lineup that's already ended-- you can try Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy starting with The Blade Itself. These books won't change the course of history-- and I agree with one reviewer's assessment that Abercrombie's definition of characterization is 'a quirk of character'-- but I do think that they epitomize the grim-and-grittiness prevalent in epic fantasy nowadays. (Think Frank Miller's Batman Returns and you'll get where fantasy is now.)

There are a lot of subgenres also emerging in the interstitials of fantasy, science fiction and horror nowadays. Want some steampunk? Urban fantasy? You can check these out.

Anyway, I'll end my recommendations here as this is already getting too long. I hope you find something worthwhile reading among those I cited.

As always,

Your faithful servant in reading,

The Banzai Cat


Charles said...

For short fiction I recommend Kij Johnson's stories.

banzai cat said...

hmmm i only have her novel at the moment, haven't tried her short stories yet. will do so. thanks!

Charles said...

Her short stories are actually quite experimental (in technique if not in content) hence the recommendation.