Tuesday, July 05, 2005


That's all it is. Well, it's procrastination, which is an insidious form of laziness that disguises itself as good intentions. "It's okay that I haven't done it YET, I'm GOING to do it. Someday." It's a seductive call and one I am pretty much unable to resist. It's something I should work on. Soon, I promise.

In the meantime, if you'd like something to read while you're waiting, perhaps I should continue the series I started what seems like such a long time ago (it probably seems that way because it IS that way).


In my last post, I mentioned some of the books from my childhood that introduced me to the joys of fantasy. My reader (whose name is Jen) was kind enough to add a few more - specifically "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin and "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle.

Both of these authors were prolific writers with many tales to their names - which brings me to my next list: Authors. And by "Authors" I mean people who wrote lots and lots of books, almost all of which are worth reading and many of which I did read and enjoy in the process of growing from boy to man. See, it's just easier to say "Authors."

Like the previous list this is: not meant to be comprehensive and should be recognized as incomplete (for instance MY list doesn't contain L'Engle, but she would appear for many other people, like Jen); dependent almost entirely on my own personal tastes as I grew up (see previous note); intended to cover a broad range of styles (if you don't like one author, try another on this list); and finally, as fun for adults as for children (moreso in some cases).

Anne McCaffrey
Piers Anthony
Terry Pratchett
Ursula K. Le Guinn

The first two are similar in many ways. Both write fantasy and science fiction, both even find ways to combine the two in some case. And I'm tired of both of them. That's not to say I didn't enjoy them immensely when I started, it's just that I've now read so many of each of their books that I have grown weary of them. These two were tremendously powerful forces on my early reading. I have to mention them, and I do have to recommend them -I just can't recommend that you read ALL of them, or if you do, spread it out a little. I recommend McCaffrey's Pern series and the first few books from Anthony's Xanth series. Pern is a medieval land of dragons but it dwells under a threat entirely unique to McCaffrey. Xanth is a land of puns and magic, an almost tongue-in-cheek exploration of some of the conventions of fantasy that also manages to BE fantasy. They're both fun places to explore.

I did not start reading Terry Pratchett until very recently, the past year or so, but I sometimes have to look in the Young Adult section at the library to find his books. He writes a very silly sort of fantasy, perhaps the sort of fairy tale world Douglas Adams might have created had he not focused on science fiction. Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is generally silly, occasionally poignant, and always a quality read. He applies an eye for the ridiculous and a healthy dose of cynicism to the trappings of fantasy. The result is hilarious but can also be, especially in his later books, thought provoking.

Ursula K. Le Guinn is a much more serious writer. Her writing style feels straightforward. Her books are packed with meaning, but never overburdened by it. They are solid, classic good reads. I have only read three of them, but based on those two I am quite confident recommending the rest.

If you are going to ignore lots of my advice and just pick out a few books here and there instead of reading everything I suggest (I mean, who has the time, right?), read Le Guinn's "A Wizard of Earthsea" and Pratchett's "Small Gods."

It should be noted here that in recommending "Small Gods" I am taking a major step away from one of my primary reading philosophies (namely: read the books in the order that the author wrote them). "Small Gods" is not Pratchett's first book, nor is it one of the first, it's number thirteen. However, the discworld books, while they go in order, are themselves distinct stories and do not need to be read in order to be appreciated. Reading them in order might help, but if you're only reading one, "Small Gods" is one of the best I have read so far and does so standing alone whether you have read the others or not.

Feel free to respond as you see fit to any of these recommendations - add your own authors to the mix. Just be aware that in future installments, I do plan to cover some more "adult" books and authors - but who knows when that will be...