Monday, October 8, 2007

Sci-Fi and fantasy, gotta love it

I know it must appear that I've forgotten I have a blog, but honestly, I was entrenched in some really good books. I've been on a sci-fi and fantasy kick lately. Maybe it's a side-effect of losing Harry Potter and I'm craving to fill the void, but I noticed the other day that all the books I've been checking out lately have fallen within those categories. One of them was a doozy. Last spring, I read "Inda" by Sherwood Smith. As far as fantasy novels go, this was a gem. The irritating things about fantasy novels? Learning the vocabulary. Every fantasy novelist feels compelled to make up new words for everything, preferably unpronounceable. In "Inda" the royalty all have bizarre made up titles that I have to guess at the pronunciation, which frustrates me. Then you have to remember what all these things mean later when they bring it up again. That almost stopped me. But the action and characters kept me going. It was really compelling discovering this fascinating culture. It honestly only felt like a fantasy novel in the sense that there's a tiny smidgen of magic and the entire world is, well, made up. It was more of a political novel, with different factions, plots, maneuverings and such. It was interesting enough to keep me reading, despite it's weird made-up words. When "The Fox" came out, which was the sequel to "Inda", I grabbed it. Again, action-packed, thrilling adventure story. Loved it. The author gives us a glimpse of different cultures within the world that are so different from the one that was focused on in the first book. The main character, Inda, is so likable, so noble, that you yearn for him to succeed. That's what makes a character convincing, making the reader empathize and worry over them. These books are no casual reads, either. At 650+ pages, I can tell how long it's going to take me to read it because I can't hold it with one hand. Therefore, it'll require my two-handed attention while I read. No nursing a baby while I read it, or standing over a stove. I'll have to sit down and use both hands, which won't happen all that often during the day. But well worth the effort and tired arms. The only thing that is perplexing is this sexually amoral society they live in. It is expected to have relationships outside of marriage in all forms and variations and considered abnormal not to. Huh, whatever. Another take on "fantasy" I guess. Nothing is pornographic, but plenty of allusions. Just to warn you.

Another great fantasy read, while I'm on the topic, was the second Fablehaven book. I wrote about the first Fablehaven book here and I finally got a copy from the library. Let me tell you, there's a darn good reason why there's a dozen holds for that book. I thought the first book was good, but I think the second was even better. More action, more excitement, more twists and turns, and less forced preaching from the grandparents. One thing that annoys me about sequential books is the way the author tries to remind you of what happened. I hate it when they just spout it out verbatim, like a "Previously on Lost" deposition. Boring. I'd rather it be covertly included and Brandon Mull did a good job of that. Another thing that annoys me in books is pathetic bad guys. Either they are so grotesquely evil that you can't even read about them or they aren't convincing enough to give you chills. Fablehaven has some evil guys that you haven't even met yet, but they are there, enticing you with hints of their dastardly deeds. You almost dread meeting them in future books. I love that word "dastardly". I wonder if I can find a way to include that in my daily life.

Last on my list of books I recently enjoyed is "One Jump Ahead" by Mark L. Van Name. This is pure, unadulterated science fiction. No magic or fairies here. It's been said that the difference between sci-fi and fantasy is that sci-fi has bolts and rivets and fantasy has trees. "One Jump Ahead" is full of bolts and rivets. My husband is a gadget guy. He loves technology and toys of that nature. When I read this, I thought to myself that he would love to live in this world. The hero is great in this book. Jon has a tortured, mysterious past that is enough to make you read more books about him just to uncover it all. He's also virtuous in a deadly way. You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley, unless he was already with you and had his vehicle, Lobo, nearby. It also helps that the action keeps it moving and the bad guys are, well, I already expounded on that.

It's time for me to explore some other genres. I've got some great non-fiction books on my bedside table waiting my attention, so that's where I'm headed now. If you haven't sampled any fantasy or sci-fi yet, these are good places to start. Broaden your horizons!


  1. Amen to the vocabulary issues. However, unlike you, it did stop me dead in my tracks with the Thomas Covenant books many, many, many years ago. I'll just read my few OSC books so I can stay in the family.

  2. man, i LOVE your blog! i could read books forever! and i feel the same way about filling the harry potter void, so i'm excited to read your books! i have already read fablehaven 1 and 2 though, and the (so-far) three books in the "twilight" series, which i didnt think i'd like but i LOVED!

  3. Well, red, it's about time! I've been anxious to see what you've been reading. I recently read Life of Pi and This I Believe. Both of which I think you'll enjoy. I love reading your writing though. It's always so interetesting and I love how excited you are about it!

  4. Hey, Speedy! Although I have been a committed reader of this blog since day 1, I think this may be my first comment. Work nearly stomped my entertainment reading appetite into the dust but I flew to visit family a few weekends ago and started reading an Anne Perry's No Graves As Yet on the plane. I haven't been able to stop reading since and this weekend I finally bought Fablehaven. (I've wanted to read it since you wrote about it.) I am loving it! I'm very exicted to move on to the others on this list.