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Julie

What draws you toward fantasy?

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Obviously this question is mainly for those who love fantasy, though if you hate it you can explain why for that, too.

 

I view fantasy as escapist reading for the most part, but I am also drawn to the way a character can be isolated and explored free of the constraints of some "realistic" fiction. Both science fiction and fantasy, to me, are really ideal media for delving hard into a character's real, well, character, by manipulating their environments to the task.

 

What is odd to me is that I really dislike science fiction and I adore fantasy (my husband is the opposite) though I'll read the occasional hybrid.

 

So, why do you read fantasy, if you do? Why don't you, if you don't? What do you read in addition to fantasy (or instead of, as the case may be)?

 

Julie

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Mmm, interesting question! I must admit that I probably read more fantasy than any other genre, although I manage to fit in a fair bit of Sci-fi, biographies and music reference books.

 

I have no idea why I enjoy them so much, and some of the recognised "classics" of fantasy are books that I have struggled with.

 

I loved Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books, quite liked the Mirror books, but hated (and never finished) his sci-fi series - can't now remember what they were called, but the main character was Angus Thermopyle, or somesuch.

 

I loved David Eddings' books about - er - was it Garion / Belgarion? Didn't get on with the Sparrowhawk stories.

 

I have enjoyed Stephen King's sci-fi and fantasy books far more than I have his horror stories.

 

I really enjoyed Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger books, especially the first two.

 

I enjoyed the first 3 Eye of the World books by Robert Jordan, but struggled after number 5 and eventually gave up. May try again next year.

 

I love Terry Pratchett's Discworld stories, although they are not conventional fantasy stories. Not conventional anything - that's why they appeal, I suppose.

 

When I was about 9, I started CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia - that was really what started me on fantasy.

 

But - despite all of the above, I have never managed to finish a book of JRR Tolkien's! Tried the Hobbit, tried LOTR, but just couldn't get on with them. No idea why, and I shall try again next year. Probably.

 

This doesn't really answer the question, but I suppose it shows that I don't slavishly follow particular authors. Some fantasy stories touch me, others don't.

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I have to say I find it strange how most people like either science ficton OR fantsay - there aren't too many I know who like both (like me!) maybe I'm just strange! :P

 

I don't remember when I first got into fantasy. It could have been when I first read LotR (about six years ago), when I started reading books about magic (back in primary school) or whenever it was that my dad read me the Narnia books (no idea when that was - a very long time ago!!!).

 

I've read all kinds of fantasy - classics like LotR and the Hobbit and kids stuff like Harry Potter, right the way through to the Discworld books. My favourite authors are constantly changing as I find new things to read. For a long time I stuck mainly to science fiction like the Pegasus books by Anne McCaffrey (sci-fi or fantasy? I never could decide...) or more myth-like books, The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer-Bradley) etc. About a year ago I was introduced to the world of Midkemia, where most of Raymond Feist's Riftwar books are set, and I have to say they were one of the best things I'd come across in a long time. I was completely hooked, and from there moved on to David Eddings (an author who I had previously been introduced to, but never really got into), and now I can't stop finding new things to read!

 

I've always read a lot of books, thankfully I read fairly quickly, and without pressures of exams etc I can get through a few books a week. But over the last year I've not read so much, I seem to have slipped into a rut of reading trashy romance stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that once in a while... but it's just not me. So I think this year one of my resolutions is going to have to be to make the effort to read more.

 

I want to read the Elita books (Kate Jacoby), The Belgariad (David Eddings), Thomas Covenant (Steven Donaldson), Dune (Frank Herbert).... And the list could go on forever! :D

 

And if I'm lucky I might get round to reading Asimov's robot books (which I have started.... but forgot about!) and re-reading the Hitch-hiker, His Dark Materials, LotR, more Discworld...

 

And now I've realised just how long a post this is, and how ambitious my reading for next year sounds (and thats just the fantasy stuff)...

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I'm another one of those that likes both fantasy and SF. I haven't been reading so much of it lately - out of all the books I've read this year only about six have been fantasy. I finally started to read His Dark Materials, the latest Discworld (I've read them all), a Feist spinoff that wasn't very good from the Tales of the Riftwar series, (pretty much authorised fanfic) and a book by a new author called Ian Graham, Monument, which was very good. I'll definitely look out for more by him.

 

I have always preferred Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books to the King Arthur stuff. I think they tend to exist in a limbo between true SF and fantasy and have elements of both. I was brought up on Lewis and Tolkien, although these days I don't much care for Lewis. Alan Garner writes pretty mean fantasy too, and not just kids stuff.

 

My all time favourite fantasy novels have be Mythago Wood and its sequels by Robert Holdstock. Wonderful, original, thought provoking. Love them.

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Obviously this question is mainly for those who love fantasy, though if you hate it you can explain why for that, too.

 

I view fantasy as escapist reading for the most part, but I am also drawn to the way a character can be isolated and explored free of the constraints of some "realistic" fiction. Both science fiction and fantasy, to me, are really ideal media for delving hard into a character's real, well, character, by manipulating their environments to the task.

 

What is odd to me is that I really dislike science fiction and I adore fantasy (my husband is the opposite) though I'll read the occasional hybrid.

 

So, why do you read fantasy, if you do? Why don't you, if you don't? What do you read in addition to fantasy (or instead of, as the case may be)?

 

Julie

 

I'm the opposite, I love sci-fi but am not keen on fantasy. Although having said that I like the Lord of the Rings (apart from the ballads). To me sci-fi could be true, there could be a sci-fi land somewhere, things could happen in the future or in some alternative world but fantasy is too make-believe, like fairy tales and that turns me off.

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Wow, I think this Thread may turn out to be a saviour! or at least, a big help! I'm taking Advanced English this year, and have to write a 4000 word Dissertation on 3 books (the theme being Fantasy/Fairy tales). so far I'm using A.S. Byatt's "The Djinn in the Nightingales Eye", Hans Christian Anderson's Collection of Fairy Tales (Penguin edition I believe) and Robert Holdstock's "Mythago Wood", so! to put it bluntly, if anyone has some helpful advice on how to approach them/study the style of the author/their literary value or any other points/views, please share them! they may prove invaluable to me, and I promise I won't rip you off and quote you directly or anything like that, I just need a mental kick start....cos at the moment I'm at a loss! I'm terrible at Critical Studies :( Give me a discussion group any day! Ok, enough of that :D

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Well, if it were me, I'd discuss Mythago Wood in terms of the tradition it comes from, or perhaps compare Holdstock to another author such as Alan Garner who also makes great use of landscape in his novels.

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Well, I am sure that is where it started for me. My mother read me these stories when I was a child and they transported me to a world of the fantastic where things happened by magic and mayhem.

 

What's not to like?

 

I like a well drawn alternative world. (I believe in the possibility of everything) Take me to Dune or to Middle Earth or to The Land or find me a seat at the round table or off to a planet light years away or down the rabbit hole!!

 

Then give me characters - Saltheart Foamfollwer, Samwise Gamgee, Uther Pendragon, The Queen of Hearts, Peter Pan - make them brave and loyal and wise, honorable, show me friendship and love and a bit of luck and a touch of fate

 

Lead me on a quest to find a ring, or a Holy Grail, or the secret of the spice, or a beautiful new song, or to chase a rabbit or find the truth

 

Throw in some magic and some whimsey and a bit of the fey - plied by a fertile imagination

 

Make it spooky, scare me a little

 

Give me strange and fanciful critters like dragons, unicorns, goblins, orcs, or pookas or toads that can drive cars!

 

Let me see something in a new light through alien eyes (Stranger in a Strange Land)

 

Ahhhhhhh..............what could be better. I don't read a lot of science fiction or fantasy because I think it is difficult to make is really good. But what I read transports me in way and to a **place** that no other fiction can usually go.

 

For those who read The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant - Did you know that there is a new one? I want to get it unabridged on tape. Has anyone read it?

 

Trudy

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Yes, I am reading it now - every bit as good as the originals!

 

*******************

Thanks for the heads up!

 

I would like to get the tapes or cd's and the book. I really loved the triologies. The action was good but it was the characters that I fell in love with when I read it the first time. It is one of those books in which the setting also seems a character.

 

It would be fun to start them all over again! I wish the entire set was on tape or CD. It would be great to have a discussion group of fans of these books and read them all over again and discuss them as you go along. Some of the things in the books just broke your heart.

 

I have to check into the new one again. I wonder if the reader is any good - it makes such a difference when listening to books. I love to listen and I am always looking for a great offering of something unabridged that is engaging.

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Closing the curtains pulling out the phone & escaping into a world where anything can happen without spoiling the plot.

I Have moods when I will enjoy a fantasy book. I dislike trilogy's as my Library always has one or two of the books missing.

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Hi Colinj,

 

Yeah, I have the same frustration with fiction that comes in series, (and not just with fantasy) where it matters what order you read them in - and that you don't miss any.

 

I know I could always order them from the library, and they're very good and efficient with most requests....I just somehow don't get round to it, (my own fault I realise) I just end up visiting the same spots on the shelves each time I go in, hoping that the missing volume has appeared somehow!

 

(Currently wearing a thin patch in the carpet by the H shelves, waiting for the next in Susan Howatch's Starbridge series!)

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The Lowestoft Library does not have up to date books in the fantasy section so I pick through the best I can. I have not bought any Fantasy in case I do not get on with them. If I borrow one I can at least give it back again. at no cost. I can order books on the net from any library in Suffolk which does make things easier.

 

I too seem to visit the same sections.

 

They do have a quick choice section & I randomly select a book from here. I have found some good ones this way too. I tend to go on reccomendations If I am trying an new author or genre, Thats why I like this group.

CJ

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It seems that I have always had a book in my hand, sometimes more than one (not at once you understand, but one by the bed, one downstairs, one at school / work etc), they have been from a number of genre's over the years, to me, to paraphrase my thinking about music, "There is only one sort of music that's good music" but that leads into a whole new discussion / discussion group.

 

Recently it has tended to be the Fantasy section I head for when looking for something to read. So…

 

To get back to the original question, I think Winterwren 27th Jan sums it up best it’s that transport to somewhere else from the ‘real’ world, although having just re-read The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and starting the Second Chronicles – just so that I can read his new one, what is the real world?

 

Whilst I thoroughly enjoy most of the books I read, it is getting increasingly difficult to find something different from the almost obligatory boy meets girl, they hate each other until he/she/both discover they have “powers”, the search for a talisman chased by the bay guy, boy girl fall for each other, discover talisman, defeat bad guy, live happily ever after. Or am I missing something – you tell me. JRR had a lot to answer for!?

 

The nearest I have come lately to breaking this mould is with the books by Guy Gavriel Kay, I don’t think I read a bad one yet, It took 4 months to pick up another book after reading Tigana, an almost as long after Sailing to Sarantium and then that was it’s sequel. The language is fabulous his ability to get the adrenalin pumping, not necessarily from ‘action’ sequences but plot build up, then move on to another area of the story, and come back etc, read them, read them all I beg you.

 

Other authors I have enjoyed are David Eddings, Raymond Feist (although he seems to milking Midkemia for all it’s worth), having said that, Robert Jordan should be spoken to very firmly by his Editor, the story doesn’t seem to have moved very far since book 3!

 

I’ve finished now, gosh what an essay.

 

Happy reading

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My Mother read to me and made up stories for us when I was a child. My love of reading comes from her and among the many books I read, I read fairy tales. To me Fantasy carries on from there for adults. It explores the world of imagination, invents impossible yet believable characters, plots and adds magic or includes a little reality with its own rules of what is possible.

 

I have read many genres, but Fantasy is a steady theme among them now. In the 80's I read Magician and had to read the rest of the series. Then I read David Eddings and thought the reverse of keana, that Eddings had ripped off Feist, lol. I guess they all started with Dungeons and Dragons.

 

Although I had read the occasional short fantasy story, and of course Edgar Allen Poe, I think it was the Hobbit, read at school, that set me on the Fantasy path.I also read LOTR at the time but found the Two Towers too tough at that age though I battled on with it and completed the trilogy.

 

I love Tiffany Aching and the Discworld series, Pratchett is more than a Fantasy writer, he is a satirist of life. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series is a mix of Fantasy and gritty detective, (it started out as a project in his creative writing class, lol). Stephen Lawhead's Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur series was a great mix of fantasy, myth and 'history'. Mary Stewarts the Crystal Cave is another I liked. One writer I have difficulty in finding in libraries but who's series I liked was Katherine Kurtz 'Camber of Culdi' series, a mix of fantasy and monastic life. More recently I enjoyed Alan Gordon's 'Jester' series with Theophilus as the main character which mixes 'history' and Shakespeare though whether this is Fantasy or fact I am not too sure as he lists his sources as actual documents from a monastery in Ireland.

 

I also like Sci-fi and got into it before fantasy although some of those were hybrids - is H.G.Wells Time Machine SF, or Fantasy class to discuss? But I find some sci-fi more technical than story. I like McAffrey's Pern which starts out as Fantasy and ends up as an SF/Fantasy hybrid. I liked Asimov's I, Robot and some of A C Clarke's stuff. But although I flirt with and am interested in SF I find I am more faithful to Fantasy.

 

Every age needs it's heroes, it's white hat and black hat and the occasional grey-but-shake-the-dust-off-and-it's-a-white-hat characters. Moral compass points, father figures perhaps, white knights on shining steeds or should that be shining knights on white steeds? Life is stressful enough that we all need anescape of some kind, for some it's caffeine, or nicotine, some other drug, or alcohol, or sugar, or fiction, fantasy being one blend of fiction that satisfies my craving. For some it is a mix of these 'escapes'. But by escaping into another world for a while, be it meditation, religion (apologies to those who still have their faith), reading, tv, movies, or one of the others I've mentioned, provided we are not unhealthily addicted, we come back to the real world rested, refreshed and able to do battle with our own 'demons' whatever they may be.

 

Sometimes we find in books what we find missing in life, be it a person or social life, a physical, emotional or mental ability we don't have ourselves, confidence or some other attribute that we need to balance our lives.

 

Perhaps that's why we like Fantasy so much. Sorry for the essay, it's 4 a.m. and I couldn't sleep, lol.

 

I'll shut up now - (why can't I talk as coherently as I sometimes write?)

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I like the sense of wonder in fantasy, also the sense that anything can happen. I'm not keen on SF, although I liked Dune and a few other space opera type SF books. I think one of the differences between them is that fantasy usually concentrates more on people and SF concentrates more on hardware.

 

I loved Mythago Wood but couldn't finish any of the other Holdstock books. I also loved The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams and my favourite fantasy books at the moment are Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Lord of the Rings is a perennial favourite.

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I love BOTH fantasy and SF.

 

They are so free, as genres. I think people can be more creative because the only limitation is the authors and readers imaginations. They're escapist, thought provoking and if they're really good all consuming.

Have you ever read a fantasy book and just wanted to be in that world as part of that story.

Although I admire it's description, I've never wanted to be a part of Dickensian London, for example.

 

Fantasy is such an exciting genre at the moment with so many wonderful new authors: Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, the Hendee writing partnership, James Barclay (not so new but still very good), Trudi Canavan the list is endless, just like the scope of fantasy and SF story-telling.

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Pure escapism, usually so far from the (sometimes) monotony and horror (just look at the news) of real life that they are a great way to relax and get away from this world. I marvel at the imagination and inventiveness of these authors, and admire how they can weave an entertaining and often thrilling story limited by only their own imagination.I got into fantasy fairly late in life, courtesy of my daughter, I was desperate for something to read and she gave me a David Gemmell and there it was, I was hooked. The main reason I think I enjoy these stories is that the characters and worlds really have no limits, anything is possible.

 

I have tried SF but never really got into it, don't dislike it though, but would much rather watch it on TV or film.

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I read a lot of Fantasy but not exclusively so, I do read other genres, and othe fiction and even some non-fiction. Like most people I have my favourites, old and new. I love that these authors have such great imaginations and are great storytellers, it is also nice to be able to escape into a totally different world now and again ;)

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I'm afriad I have simple and complicated explainations to why I like Fantasy.

I'll stick with the simple one heehee...too much to say on the complicated one...

Simply enough...I like swords :D I like weapons, dragons and magic...times when the power of the Earth could conquer a commen evil!

Ahhh....I am just in love with them!

(must have been a past life!)

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What hooked me on Fantasy? In a word: Tolkien.

 

I was a college freshman when my best friend lent me his books. Once I got through the Long-Expected Party the first time (mildly interesting but slow going), and got on the road with Frodo and Sam, I was hooked. The sheer beauty of his language, the breathtaking landscapes, the honor and nobility of his "good" characters, the mind-numbing horror of the evil ones, the sense that here was something worth fighting for. By the time I got to the Field of Cormallen, I was so wrung out that I wept freely. I loved the appendices too, the backstory, the idea that someone would first create a language and a world, then people it with such engaging characters. His steeping in myth, language and Anglo-Saxon history has since caused me to attempt a bit of pseudo-medieval writing of my own.

 

For me, he is the gold standard, though I also enjoy Holdstock, De Lint, Hobb, Kay, Stirling and Turtledove (alternative history), Donaldson, Bradley, Paxson, Stewart's Arthurian cycle, and others. Science fiction? With the exception of Asimov and occasionally Herbert, not so much. I just don't have a scientific mind.

 

Has anyone read Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver? Found it in the bookstore's "science fiction" section and it is that, but also a combination of fantasy and historical fiction, with a bit of the picaresque thrown into the mix. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

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It took me two attempts to read LOTR and although I enjoyed it, I did find it slow going in parts.

 

I think I like fantasy for the same reason a lot of the previous posters have given. You don't get hung up on the probabilities of a situation - anything goes and you can completely lose yourself in the story. I love Julian May, David Eddings, early Raymond Feist, Maggie Furey and Guy Gavriel Kay (although he can go a bit OTT even for me at times). My husband has a lot of the Stephen Donaldson books and I'm thinking about starting them - would anyone recommend them?

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In a sense all fiction is fantasy, even when based on realistic characters. But even if we limit its use to works that deal with whimsical or outlandish notions, like e.g. Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, there's always a hook to the familiar world we pretend to understand and like to call 'normal.' Both Alice and Dorothy are dreamers and they help us to unlock our rich subconscious, remove us to a fantasy world where seemingly anything can happen. This both frees us from the mundane world for a while and in a way terrifies us, since we go about our 'normal' lives, imagining that there is logic and purpose in our existence. Fantasy breaks the link between cause and effect, and throws 'normality' into question.

 

When you come to think about it we all live for most of our lives in a fantasy world, imagining gold or love or moral virtue somewhere over the rainbow. It's books llike Oz that feed our dreaming nature, and later when we are 'grown up' enable us to stand back and assess it.

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I like fantasy because it creates this whole new world in my head where strange things can happen and it's not restricted by the limitations that we have. Though I do like them to have some similarities to here otherwise I find things difficult to understand. I do like the historical fantasies because they take a known and bring in a mythical/fantasy element to it. I love books that I can get so absorbed and caught up in and for me fantasy is one of those.

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