Recommended Reading?

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rust
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:12 am

jux wrote:Finnish Kalevala and Estonian Kalev's son are the most ethnic legends of these nations, but they are not much of a page-turners.
Most of the primary sources are actually quite boring, the way they were
compiled and written usually runs contrary to the expectations of today's
readers, which is why even very famous ones are only rarely bestsellers.
Germany's national epos is the Nibelungenlied, but the number of people
who did read its translation into modern German voluntarily is certainly
quite low, and I have little doubt that this is the same with other primary
sources - they only become popular once Hollywood & Co. have provided
a streamlined modernized (often mis-) interpretation of the original mate-
rial.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:05 pm

rust wrote:
jux wrote:Finnish Kalevala and Estonian Kalev's son are the most ethnic legends of these nations, but they are not much of a page-turners.
Most of the primary sources are actually quite boring, the way they were
compiled and written usually runs contrary to the expectations of today's
readers, which is why even very famous ones are only rarely bestsellers.
Germany's national epos is the Nibelungenlied, but the number of people
who did read its translation into modern German voluntarily is certainly
quite low, and I have little doubt that this is the same with other primary
sources - they only become popular once Hollywood & Co. have provided
a streamlined modernized (often mis-) interpretation of the original mate-
rial.
Considering that Uwe Bol was responsible for the film version, there's a good reason why people don't read the original any more ;)
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:54 pm

Prime_Evil wrote: Considering that Uwe Bol was responsible for the film version ...
Yeah, Germany should have outlawed the export of movie directors
to prevent the cinema pollution created by Boll, Emmerich & Compa-
ny, or should at least have forced them to change their job descrip-
tion from "movie director" to "movie perpetrator". :evil:
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Deleriad » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:23 pm

I find the dismissal of contemporary writers to be quite arrogant. I have huge respect for anyone prepared to commit words to print and to lay their heart on the line. The likes of J K Rowling draw from the same wellspring as us all here and create their own worlds in their own ways. In so doing they don't somehow deplete the source. Rather, every act of creativity has a chance to enrich us all and refusing to learn from those around us is perverse at best.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby alex_greene » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:54 pm

Deleriad wrote:I find the dismissal of contemporary writers to be quite arrogant. I have huge respect for anyone prepared to commit words to print and to lay their heart on the line. The likes of J K Rowling draw from the same wellspring as us all here and create their own worlds in their own ways. In so doing they don't somehow deplete the source. Rather, every act of creativity has a chance to enrich us all and refusing to learn from those around us is perverse at best.
Debatable. I doubt that a lot of contemporary authors have even looked at the primary sources. They just cobble together scenes that will look good in post when it gets to be made into a movie and they can turn over the fight chapters to the CGI guys at ILM, and the real actors just phone in their lines.

Yup, that's a wrap. That's MAN Booker and Oscar material for sure. And all the merch.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby soltakss » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:14 am

I just don't get the snobbishness that comes with Fantasy Fiction.

Tolkein used Anglo-Saxon/Norse tales. The Norse used a lot of Germanic stories. The Germanic stories are based on earlier myths and so on.

So what?

All that matters is that the subject matter is interesting and the story is well told.

I've had as much pleasure from reading modern Fantasy works as from the Classics.

Look at something like the Iliad or Beowulf - they are exciting tales, but aren't any better or worse than modern fiction.

I'd put Harry Potter up against the Silmarillion any day.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:25 am

alex_greene wrote:
Deleriad wrote:I find the dismissal of contemporary writers to be quite arrogant. I have huge respect for anyone prepared to commit words to print and to lay their heart on the line. The likes of J K Rowling draw from the same wellspring as us all here and create their own worlds in their own ways. In so doing they don't somehow deplete the source. Rather, every act of creativity has a chance to enrich us all and refusing to learn from those around us is perverse at best.
Debatable. I doubt that a lot of contemporary authors have even looked at the primary sources. They just cobble together scenes that will look good in post when it gets to be made into a movie and they can turn over the fight chapters to the CGI guys at ILM, and the real actors just phone in their lines.

Yup, that's a wrap. That's MAN Booker and Oscar material for sure. And all the merch.
On the contrary, I think a lot of modern fantasy authors have a deep interest in mythology and history. But one of the most important qualities of the mythic images that power the fantasy genre is their multivalence - their ability to support multiple meanings and multiple interpretations simultaneously. This is why authors return to the wellspring of certain primary sources over and over again, re-interpreting and recontextualising their meaning each time. A good example of this is the way that Arthurian fiction has evolved over the last century from T.H. White to Bernard Cornwell. Granted that some interpretations have more power than others and some treat the primary source material with more respect that others. Granted also that some are simply better written than others. But all are valid of the historical and literary record - even silly works such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail show a familiarity with Malory and Chrétien de Troyes.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby alex_greene » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:42 am

Harry Potter.

The Hunger Games series.

The Twilight series.

Rachel Caine's entire oeuvre.

And for the adults, Fifty Shades of Grey.

They really aren't interested in researching the original source material. I rest my case.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:44 am

alex_greene wrote: I doubt that a lot of contemporary authors have even looked at the primary sources.
A closer look at the biographies of some of them might surprise you.
To give just a few examples, J. K. Rowling has a university degree in
the Classics, Gillian Bradshaw has a university degree in Classical Phi-
lology, Barbara Hambly has a Masters degree in Medieval History. A
lot of the contemporary fantasy authors have not only a casual inter-
est in the primary sources, they have studied them on a scholarly le-
vel.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby alex_greene » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:54 am

rust wrote:
alex_greene wrote: I doubt that a lot of contemporary authors have even looked at the primary sources.
A closer look at the biographies of some of them might surprise you ... A lot of the contemporary fantasy authors have not only a casual interest in the primary sources, they have studied them on a scholarly level.
Yet how come they have written garbage?
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:07 am

alex_greene wrote: Yet how come they have written garbage?
One man's garbage is another man's choice for a literary award. :wink:

There are famous fantasy authors whose books I find too shallow
and only useful as oversized doorstops (e.g. everything written by
Stephen Donaldson) and heavily criticized authors whose books I
love (e.g. those by Diane Duane). A matter of taste.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:32 am

rust wrote:
alex_greene wrote: Yet how come they have written garbage?
One man's garbage is another man's choice for a literary award. :wink:

There are famous fantasy authors whose books I find too shallow
and only useful as oversized doorstops (e.g. everything written by
Stephen Donaldson) and heavily criticized authors whose books I
love (e.g. those by Diane Duane). A matter of taste.
Well....reading tastes are highly personal.

However, it should be noted that gamers tend to read a lot more than the general population and like often have strong opinions about books. Maybe this is a geek thing....
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby soltakss » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:32 pm

alex_greene wrote:
rust wrote:
alex_greene wrote: I doubt that a lot of contemporary authors have even looked at the primary sources.
A closer look at the biographies of some of them might surprise you ... A lot of the contemporary fantasy authors have not only a casual interest in the primary sources, they have studied them on a scholarly level.
Yet how come they have written garbage?
What's the big deal about primary sources?

Are you saying that Anglo-Saxon literature is rubbish because it isn't based on Homer? Or that Homer is rubbish as it wasn't based on Gilmagesh?

What are primary sources anyway? Most of them come from the imagination or the subconscious, depending on which articles you read.

As far as I am concerned, literature should be judged on what is says to you, how it sparks the imagination and how it makes you feel. If you care what the protagonists do and wonder what is going to happen next then it has done its job.

That happens with modern literature as much as with the primary sources.

And who says that contemporary authors have written garbage? That is a very personal view, not really an objective one. For every person who says they are garbage there are others who really like them.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:51 pm

soltakss wrote: As far as I am concerned, literature should be judged on what is says to you, how it sparks the imagination and how it makes you feel. If you care what the protagonists do and wonder what is going to happen next then it has done its job.

That happens with modern literature as much as with the primary sources.
Actually even more so, because there is no significant cultural difference
between the culture of the authors and the culture of the readers, while
many of the primary sources are from cultures which are rather difficult
to understand without some research.

Still, I find it interesting to know the primary source of any book based
upon it, for example in order to compare the author's interpretation of the
original material with my own interpretation of it and to see to which dif-
ferent ideas and insights his reading of the primary source led him. This
is perhaps similar to my interest in other peoples' interpretations of the
roleplaying settings I also know and use, there is always something new
to learn from others' points of view.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby GamerDude » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:31 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:Are you aware that urban fantasy and paranormal romance are currently outselling traditional medieval fantasy by several orders of magnitude. Hmmm...perhaps a book outlining how to run modern paranormal romance using Legend or RQ 6 might be fun :P
Yes, truthfully no accounting for the masses wanting cheep mass-market schlock.

At least C.S. Lewis was a contemporary and friend of Tolkien's, the two regularly exchanging ideas.

And Alex, that's the problem with shoving everything into the term "Fantasy".... it's all a fantasy. I prefer things like "feudal adventure" because of the time period/technology level these stories are set in.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby soltakss » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:47 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:Hmmm...perhaps a book outlining how to run modern paranormal romance using Legend or RQ 6 might be fun :P
Twilight of Legend!

Sounds good :D
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby DamonJynx » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:10 pm

I'm going to throw in my 2 cents worth here...

I'm nowhere near as widely read as a lot of you guys and this is an extremely interesting post.

As far as for where an idea for a novel comes from and all that BS - who cares! I don't. I read because I enjoy reading, not because I want a lesson in mythology. If I want that I'll research the particular cultural myths that I'm interested in.

There are many fine modern authors out there (as well a number that I can't be bothered with).

I like: Michael Moorcock, Robert E Howard, H P Lovecraft, Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson's original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and Mordants Need - very interesting take on magic in that one, Robin Hobb, Raymond E Feist, G R R Martin, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind (though the later books, while enjoyable, got a little preachy), Brett Weeks, Robert Jordan - to a point (the Wheel of Time just had too many viewpoint characters for my tastes), Dean Koontz (not strictly fantasy, but certainly has elements of the macabre particularly in his earlier work and is a damn good author) and a host of others though these are by far my favourites, oh , and Fritz Lieber almost forgot him shame on me.

I don't like: Joe Abercrombie - don't know why, just couldn't get into the First Law series, not interested in the contemporary paranormal romance (think Mills & Boons for tweenies) and there are a swag of unfinished books where I bought the first of a series and didn't get into it. I'm sure others like them though, because a lot of the authors I'm not particularly keen on make a good living - J K Rowling is a perfect example.

Oh, just a final point - not every piece of fiction has to be a literary masterpiece. Authors have to eat as well and if you can write something that is commercially successful (even if you can write something that sells at any volume!) I take my hat off to you.

Edit: as for influential authors in my gaming; M Moorcock is top of the pile. The more I think about it, I enjoy GM'ing Swords & Sorcery style games far more than I did the 'high' fantasy of D&D - perhaps it's the system; D100 games are eminently better suited the genre, but I just feel that as far as fantasy goes, S&S is just that little bit more plausible and verisimilitude is much easer to maintain.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:01 am

I sincerely hope that this thread will help people discover authors that they haven't tried before and gain an appreciation of the sheer breadth of the fantasy that is out there. Nobody is going to like everything that gets published, but that's kind of the point - I'm interested to learn about the works that influence the way that other people play Legend / RQ.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:33 am

Prime_Evil wrote: I'm interested to learn about the works that influence the way that other people play Legend / RQ.
A book which influenced several of my campaigns is The Well
of the Unicorn by Fletcher Pratt, basically a typical "farm boy
to king" fantasy story, but unusual because of its interesting
and plausible treatment of the politics of the setting, with ma-
ny good ideas for any "rebellion" campaign.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Well_of_the_Unicorn
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:58 am

The Well of the Unicorn is definitely a classic. It shows the influence of E.R. Eddison's The Worm Orobouros, a work that also had a profound influence on Tolkien.

Have you tried any of the works that Fletcher Pratt wrote with L. Sprague de Camp? The Incompleat Enchanter series are probably the best of these, if only for the treatment of magic as a branch of formal logic...

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