Posts tagged books
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke
I had never taken the time to get truly acquainted with the work of Arthur C. Clarke, and so when I saw the "The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke" I decided it was time to rectify that, and I am glad that I did. I had largely not read his work because I didn't care all that much for 2001 a space odyssey. It's not that I disliked it I just didn't care all that much, but I suspect after having read a few of his short stories, including those that helped to define that book that the book he wrote would be more interesting. It is rare to pick up a collection of short stories, even by a single author and enjoy all of them. Typically even in classic works by famous authors I have found things that I didn't care for, and while there is certainly there are swings in quality in this story none of the stories were bad. One of the qualities that is important in an author, especially a science fiction author is to know how much space an idea deserves. I have read far too many short stories that would have been very good if only they had been written in half the length, but, I suspect, the authors had some set length they wanted their story to be and so it got stretched out. One of the stories that has stuck with me is "The Sentinel" which has a connection to the obelisk scene in the movie 2001, except in this story it is on the moon, left as a way to tell when humans have reached a technological level worth investigating. The story makes assumptions on why the object is there and it doesn’t show the aliens returning but none the less it is quite haunting. The other thing I didn't know was that Arthur C. Clarke wrote a quite a lot of funny stories. The White Hart stories were all fun, in part because he could tell stories that could be science fiction without having to be hard science fiction since they were lies. This could be a fun TV series and reminded me of Eureka in the tone. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read enough Arthur C. Clarke to know which of his styles you most like. It has almost every type of science fiction you can think of and all of it is quite enjoyable. Picture from DarthFar on Deviant art
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Review of the Ethshar Series of books, by Lawrence Watt-Evans
I like epic fantasy as much as anyone. Still read Lord of The Rings every few years, love the Wheel of Time Series and many others, but sometimes I want to read fantasy that isn't about someone changing the entire world, but also isn't silly. Perhaps it's just me but often this type of fantasy is harder to find than epic fantasy. Everything in the fantasy section is either massive doorstop epic fantasy, modern fantasy or diskworld. Recently I discovered a series of books that fit the bill though. These are the Ethshar Series of books. The most recent is The Vondish Ambasitor  which I havnt' got to yet but I've read all the others. Each book is a stand alone story about a single character and the most important point of these books is that they are fun. The characters do things that are important, but they aren't prophisied heroes or the world's greatest anything. Instead they are men and women who are on an adventure that is big to them. There is a world here that you discover more about in every book, interesting magic, smart writing and enough humor to make you laugh but not so that it becomes the entire focus of the books. They can be read in any order, usually don't take to long and are at their heart just a lot of fun. So, if you like fantasy but don't always have the eneregy for the complexities of epic fantasies then consider picking up the Ethshar series of books, a series that deserves more attention than it has been getting. If you want to know more check out Lawrence Watt-Even's homepage. Here he discusses his books(including other interesting series), and sometimes puts out new work.
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Books about Writing Science Fiction
In addition to reading and watching science fiction and fantasy I like to create my own stories. This is something that i have been doing for years and truly enjoy. In those years I have read many books on the subject, but most writing books aren't written with the science fiction author in mind and so while there may be some good advice there is plenty that simply isn't relivent and thing that the science fiction author needs to know that arn't mentioned. if you want to avoid the literary snobbery of some books on writing as well as get advice that is relivent to writing science fiction and fantasy here are a few books worth picking up. 1> Steven King's: On Writing There is far less actual writing advice in this book than you might expect but don't let that deter you. This is a book about creativity with plenty of ideas about writing as well. If you're not interested in books of rules about writing but want to send some time with someone who knows about it then pick up On Writing. 2> The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova This book teaches writing through the four basic points of storytelling, character, conflict, background and plot. But what this does truly well is give you questions to ask and examples of Ben Bova's work that shows how he does this. This is a book that will help you read every book you read with a writer's eye and that will help make every book a writing book. 3> Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe, by George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier This is a book about creating worlds and ideas more than about writing. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of creating a world that is important to consider. From orbits and ecosystems to technology this book will help to ensure that you don't miss anything vital when creating a world. 4> Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity A classic writing tells about writing. If you like Ray Bradbury's work then you'll enjoy this well written book and you'll learn something both about how to write and about Bradbury himself.
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