Since Eric isn't here I thought it would be safe to post a few lists of quality "geek books" that each of us has read. I'm always interested in finding new things, especially since I've taken an interest in writing fantasy lately, finding a passion for it, (though I'm really interested in try, to a degree, to do my own thing). The next idea, currently germinating in the back of my mind while I finish this current project, feels like it would work well with some steampunk influences, so, have some good steampunk suggestions? (I'll post some lists later, but right now I'm a little too tired).
Anything of Jack Vance, though I particularly recommend:
The Dying Earth series:
The Dying Earth
The Eyes of the Overworld
Rhialto the Magnificent
The Lyonesse trilogy, written much later in his life, is also fantastic:
The Green Pearl
I would argue that Vance has one of the most distinctive and unique prose styles of any fantasy/sci fi writer. This site has a very good write up on him.
I've heard of him before. Maybe you could tell me a little about some of your favorite novels of his?
Now I'm not a big fan of steampunk, in fact I think in large doses it is quite silly. I've never read anything of that sort, and only seen a few movies, therefore I am inexperienced in seeing in it in a writing form. So that's why I'm interested if Liam or Mirabel have particularly books of this sort they found good, I would like to see what it looks like and how it works in writing to get a feel for what I want to do. I don't want much of it, but I've been thinking a tiny dash of it sprinkled into my next book might be good to create a wider space, give it a nice, comfy differentness.
So for a short list of my own (i am terribly lazy):
The Dark Is Rising Series By Susan Cooper, (Liam )
Howl's Moving Castle and House of Many Ways, Diana Wynne Jones
And of course, The Earthsea books by Ursula Le Guin and also her sci-fi classic The Left Hand of Darkness.
Vance has a very distinct prose style, elegant in an almost Edwardian sense. His dialogue is masterful, albeit totally unrealistic. Everyone in Vance's books - be they ogres or aliens - talks like something out of Shakespeare:
The air of Ard Court smelled richly indeed, with a heavy sweet-sour organic reek that distended the nostrils. Gersen grimaced and went to the shop from which the odors seemed to emanate. Taking a deep breath and bowing his head, he entered. To right and left were wooden tubs, containing pastes, liquids, and submerged solids; overhead hung rows of withered blue-green objects the size of a man's fist. At the rear, behind a counter stacked with limp pink sausages stood a clown-faced youth of twenty, wearing a patterned black and brown smock, a black velvet headkerchief. He leaned upon the counter without spirit or vitality, and without expression watched Gersen sidle past the tubs.
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"You're a Sandusker?" asked Gersen.
"What else?" This was spoken in a tone Gersen could not identify, a complex mood of many discords: sad pride, whimsical malice, insolent humility. The youth asked, "You wish to eat?"
Gersen shook his head. "I am not of your religion."
"Ha ho!" said the youth. "You know Sandusk then?"
"Only at second-hand."
The youth smiled. "You must not believe that old foolish story, that we Sanduskers are religious fanatics who eat vile food rather than flagellate ourselves. It is quite incorrect. Come now. Are you a fair man?"
Gersen considered. "Not unusually so."
The youth went to one of the tubs, dipped up a wad of glistening black-crusted maroon paste. "Taste! Judge for yourself! Use your mouth rather than your nose!"
Gersen gave a fatalistic shrug, tasted. The inside of his mouth seemed first to tingle, then expand. His tongue coiled back in his throat.
"Well?" asked the youth.
"If anything," said Gersen at last, "it tastes worse than it smells."
The youth sighed. "Such is the general consensus."
So there you go; wit, a wealth of imaginary cultural detail (someone has described Vance's the 'science' of Vance's fiction as being 'anthropology), sensuous detail (Vance excels at describing imaginary meals, odours, sounds). I'd recommend anything you can find, with the exception of the early stories collected in Fantasms and Magics.
Hmm. Interesting, interesting. I would never have pegged you as a big sci-fi fan. You always struck me as too much of a serious reader ^^
Two interesting fantasy writers that I wonder if anyone here is familiar with:
George R.R. Martin