Fantasy 101

I’ve always been a Tolkien fan. I have not read any other books as many times as I have read his trilogy. I even tolerated Christopher Tolkien just because he is JRR’s son and I believed that the apple should not have fallen too far from the tree. In between I finished the thirty odd volumes of Pratchett’s Discworld series, excellent books. But unfortunately the last few were not the same. I think Pratchett should seriously consider retirement. The Pratchett magic isn’t there anymore. ‘Night Watch’ and everything that follows reeks of a brain finally out of ideas. But he’s had a good run, a great run even and his world has found an eternal place in the halls of fantasy literature.

Recently I picked up my first Robert Jordan. It was a mistake. I had heard many things about his work and most reviews were good. Now I am two thirds through ‘the Wheel of Time’ and seriously considering dropping it for good. There’s an adage that when it comes to fantasy literature, the Brits are a natural and the Yanks should stick to horror and thrillers. I didn’t believe it but maybe its true though I did enjoy Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series a lot when I was younger. I wonder where she is from? I haven’t read her stuff for quite some time and have just vague memories of her work. But like I said, I do remember enjoying them a lot, and so did my kid sister.

I also read somewhere that with so much good literature available, its ‘childish’ to reread the same books no matter how good they were. Because, it added, that meant that I would end up missing out on so much more. But I disagree with that. I enjoying rereading all my favorite stuff. I am pretty clear on what I like and I understand the type of reviewers I agree with so if something that I would like was published, I would come to know about it. I have found that its best to stick to the type of fiction I enjoy most. I’m sure that there are many books out there that I might like but I don’t really have the time or the inclination to hunt them down. Its not worth the risk of picking up a lemon since bad books tend to depress me because I try very hard to not leave them unfinished.

Another interesting point is that I seldom enjoy the movies as much as I enjoy reading the books. Tolkien’s movie versions are grand but not anywhere as grand as his words on paper. The breadth of the books is staggering compared to the movies. His theater versions always seemed a bit disjointed to me. Then I found the director’s-cut versions on DVD. Almost an hours worth of extra footage on those – a much better deal.

One of the rare exceptions to the books being better than the movies is ‘Bladerunner’, based on Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep’. In this case I found the movie to be a lot better than the book mainly because Harrison Ford is perfectly cast in the lead. I’ve always enjoyed his work.

Anyway, after leaving my first Jordon book unfinished, I think I’ll read the service manual for our washing machine (the 342 pages are always good for numbing the mind) and then move on to something more to my liking – maybe Larry Niven.

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