Paul Welch

On Fantasy, Writing & the Journey to Publication

What I’m Reading

I’ve been reading a fantasy short-story anthology lately, and I’m sad to admit that it has left me quite disappointed. I haven’t been enjoying the stories at all. They feel poorly constructed and highly uninteresting. Indeed, I had a moment two nights ago where I was losing hope in the fantasy genre.

So my decision?

Get inspired.

I went shopping and picked up some new books. I hit up a couple of independent and used book stores, and here’s what I came away with:

It might come as a surprize that I haven’t read either Dune or Game of Thrones just yet, but sometimes you get a little back-logged in your reading list.

Let the inspiration begin!

What are some of your favorite science fiction or fantasy books? Do you have any all-time favorites that always inspire you? What about hidden treasures that are often overlooked? Let’s discuss them in the comments below!

8 responses to “What I’m Reading

  1. Siân January 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I must admit a lot of fantasy leaves me feeling vaguely flat. There are some older works that I find incredibly inspiring, such as Julian May’s Saga of the Pliocene Exiles, which I read in the 90’s, and is now out of print. The melding of mythology, ‘mind-powers’, an alien race on Pliocene Earth and ‘misfits’ from Earth’s future willingly going through a gateway into the past and (with the aliens) creating the legends we know today, continues to engross me.

    The Silmarillion has inspired me for over a quarter of a century. I spent some years wishing Tolkien had written it as he wrote Lord of the Rings and then changed my mind. Telling the story from a distant third-person works for that kind of epic myth. It feels ancient, it feels like the Old Testament, and there are still parts that make me cry, after reading the book so often that the first copy fell apart.

    ‘”Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also…To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever. …’

    The many quailed; but Fëanor hardened his heart and said: ‘We have sworn and not lightly. This oath we will keep. We are threatened with many evils, and treason not the least; but one thing is not said: that we shall suffer from cowardice, from cravens or the fear of cravens. Therefore I say we will go on, and this doom I add: the deeds that we do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda.’

    And so they were. They were doomed but the characters, though only line-drawings really, shone brilliantly and briefly before they went down in ruin, and The Silmarillion is still the most superb high fantasy work I’ve ever read. I love the language, the magnitude of it, the fact that these people could not triumph and yet refused to admit defeat until they died. It’s heartrendingly glorious. And I love that, unlike Lord of the Rings, the Elves of the Silmarillion could murder, betray, defy, be immoral, actually be extremely ‘human’ in their actions. If there was ever supposed to be a moral here of ‘This is what happens if you defy the ‘gods’ who know what’s best for you’ it failed completely for me, since I have always been fascinated by the hubristic, incredible Fëanor, the ‘spirit of fire’ whose actions doomed the Noldor (High Elves) who followed him, by his sons, bound to the terrible oath he declaimed, by Túrin, even Melkor/Morgoth and Sauron. They are complex, even if Tolkien did not write them as complex, and I far prefer complexity and shades of grey to black and white.

    • Paul Welch January 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      The last time I tried to read Silmarillion was when I was 11, and unfortunately at that time it did not capture me and I was unable to get into it. Methinks I shall have to revisit it, now that I’m considerably older. Thanks for the quote!

  2. dmmaster42 January 28, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I started picked Game of Thrones too, and I started reading, but then I got distracted by The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I have a stack of books I need to read a mile high. haha I’ll get through it eventually.

  3. bibliopirate January 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Game of Thrones was amazing. If you like that you should look into the author Robin Hobb she writes a really good epic.
    His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novick is also pretty amazing. It is an alternate universe set during the Napoleonic Wars, with the difference being every army has an aerial corp of sentient dragons.

    • Paul Welch January 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      I just swung by a bookstore and picked up Robin Hobb’s Shaman’s Crossing. Hoping it’s a good intro to her work! Thanks for the recommendation.

      I also picked up Janice Hardy’s Shifter and Blue Fire. They’re YA fantasy novels. She runs such an awesome site on editing and writing and the whole process from idea to publication, that I felt compelled to check her work out. If you’re a writer, I recommend her website!

  4. Paul Welch January 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I’m going to have to check out both Robin Hobb and Naomi Novick, thanks for the recommendation, didblipirate!

    The Fault in Our Stars sounds very interesting, dmmaster42 – I’m going to look it up online.

    Have either of you read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear? That series gave me faith. Thoroughly enjoyed the books!

  5. Pingback: Feeding the Addiction – What I’m Reading #2 « Paul Welch

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