1. Harmonices

    Harmonices Senior Member

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    Writers of Fantasy / Speculative Fiction with Great Prose

    Discussion in 'Discussion of Published Works' started by Harmonices, Apr 26, 2019.

    My days of reading literature are pretty much over. Now it's all about escapism for me. But, I do get tired of poor prose, weak plotting and all that comes with popular fiction. I've been reading a bunch of that stuff lately and I feel like I've eaten too much chocolate. Like errgh. No .. no more (at least, I need a reprieve).

    So, suggestions please for great fantasy writers, by which I don't necessarily mean, popular. Or great novels, or sequences of novels. Sci fi also welcome, as is horror.

    So you don't have to, I'll put Tolkien and George RR Martin out there first.

    ETA: Just picked up a faded old paperback of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. She's good!
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Philip Pullman?
     
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  3. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "The Trouble With Peace" by Joe Abercrombie (reread)
    What exactly constitutes great (or poor) prose is a matter of some subjectivity, but chances are you might like some of these:

    Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast: Peake's prose is hauntingly beautiful, absurd and artistic, full of Gothic splendor, poignant tragedy, wit, charm, light, life, color, dust, darkness, decay. The world he created in Gormenghast is unlike any other. His characters are larger than life, yet have moments of startling lifelikeness. I recommend the audiobooks narrated by Saul Reichlin.

    Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun and others: It has been a while since I read Wolfe, but his prose is incredibly solid. It doesn't stand out for me in the way that Peake's does, but there is some truly beautiful language in there. Wolfe's true strength lies in worldbuilding and mystery. His New Sun is an epic jaunt through a bizarre, ancient, mysterious alien world. There is much hidden meaning there to be unearthed by the observant and curious reader; it is as much a puzzle as it is a novel.

    Josiah Bancroft, Books of Babel: I'm reading the first book now, and I can't praise it enough. These are very much contemporary works, but they have this very old-timey feel to them, and heaps of charm. Bancroft's prose is vivid, delightful, and clever. The story is a real page turner, and the Tower of Babel is, yet again, a strange and quite surreal setting I can't wait to fully discover. The audiobook narration of John Banks is excellent; I don't know if the book would have charmed me quite as much on paper.

    William Gibson, Sprawl Trilogy and others: Now moving from Fantasy (and Science Fantasy) into Sci-Fi proper. Gibson's (early) prose is gritty and electrifying, neon-bright, sophisticated, stylish, and highly evocative. Amazing stories, amazing characters, and an amazing setting.
    His newer prose (which I haven't read as much of) is a sleek and aerodynamic thing polished to a chrome finish. I tend to prefer the older stuff, but there is a case to be made for his writing style having evolved and improved.

    Honourable mentions to Alfred Bester and R. Scott Bakker.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    YES!!! I love Phillip Pullman. He is the kind of writer that makes me want to read everything he's written. Yes, even the stuff for kids.

    I am also very fond of Kage Baker, who straddles Sci-Fi and Fantasy very well. As starter books, I'd recommend In the Garden of Iden, and The Bird of the River. The Bird of the River is, oddly enough, the final volume in a 'series,' but it's got a different tone from the first two, and does not require the first two being read at all. I started that series with The Bird of the River, and loved it. I didn't get to the other books till much later on.

    The inside cover blurb to The Bird:
    As for In the Garden of Iden, my back cover blurb reads:
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  5. Harmonices

    Harmonices Senior Member

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    Yeah, read his Dark Materials trilogy. I hear he's started a fresh trilogy. Must check it out.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yeah, seconding Mervyn Peake. Unmatched.

    I'd follow with Gene Wolfe as well. Angela Carter's collection The Bloody Chamber is also astounding.

    Guy Gavriel Kay, who I think worked on the Silmarillion with the Tolkien estate, also great.

    I agree with @jannert regarding Kage Baker.

    Samuel R. Delaney has a great way with words. James P. Blaylock often does as well, especially in his funnier fantasies like The Elfin Ship.
     
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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  8. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Assertive Neophyte Contributor

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    I'll co-sign on the Guy Gavriel Kay recommendation for the OP. He doesn't write the brand of prose I prefer, but I imagine he might satisfy more literary readers. I'm thankful that I'm a simple man, and I can appreciate the "poor prose" of popular fiction.
     

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