New Year’s Reading

While recently browsing in a Chapter’s, I noticed that, at some point over the past 25 years, the ‘fantasy’ section had dwarfed the shelves dedicated solely to Science Fiction. I remember in my early teens how grateful I was that the most book sellers (that would be WHSmith & Classics) tucked in a small spur shelf for fantasy in the SF section. How times have changed, thanks, I suppose, to Harry Potter, Twilight and Peter Jackson amongst many other factors. However, wandering through aisle after aisle of cases labeled ‘Fantasy’, I came to realize that at some point over the years there had been something of an unholy union between fantasy and gothic fiction (once a spur off the horror genre!). And what a productive marriage that has been. Gothic fantasy really should be in a section all its own, a bit like what they did with the Dragonlance titles.

Amidst all the love-lorn vampires, werewolves, ghosts, demons and gorgeous femme detectives who go bump and grind in the night, I spotted some familiar names who are clearly still in the game, but whom I haven’t read for over 20 years:

Gene Wolfe – who’s writing is so rich and nuanced that he really could be considered ‘literary’ like Magic Realism. I read his Torturer series, good stuff.

Guy Gavriel Kay – who’s writing is so rich and nuanced that he is now found in the ‘lieterary’ department. I read ‘The Summer Tree’ a long time ago, didn’t like it and never went further. Must have been something I ate that day, ‘cuz I was in a minority of one with my opinion.

Lawrence Watt-Evans – read his first book ‘The Lure of the Basilisk’ in 1980, enjoyed it but never followed him up. Now I have over 20 titles to choose from.

Janny Wurts – purely out of curiosity. She was Artist Guest of honour at the very first SF convention I went to, oh, must have been around 1982. (I seem to recall hearing that that she had to endure being hit upon  by a certain writer guest of honour who shall remain nameless). I remember her saying that she was working on a novel, and sure enough, now she has twenty or so to her credit.

So I’ll be off in the new year haunting the used book stores (Rick, you’ve been warned!) for these old-timers, and a few other nostalgic romps.

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