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Favourite Authors

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Postby David Whyld » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:46 pm

Who are your favourite authors? And why?
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Postby KFAdrift » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:42 pm

Well, obviously David Whyld for his wonderful storytelling.
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Postby Ren » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:47 pm

Dashiel Hammet because every word he writes drips with cool. Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for the comics. Philip K Dick despite his inability to write.
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Postby MrToad » Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:43 am

Probably my favourite authors are:

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman just because of the DragonLance books they have written.

Despite what everyone else thinks I also really like Dean Koontz because of the style and settings of his books.
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Postby The Bold Slasher » Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:12 pm

I love Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for the hillarious wordplay in their books.
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Postby AndrewF » Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:01 pm

J K Rowling... just because :D

Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Tom Holt and Piers Anthony for their hilarious books poking fun at the fantasy genre.

Robert A Heinlein for all of his books, but especially Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land.

Anne McCaffrey for her Dragons of Pern series and the Tower and the Hive series.

need i go on?? ;) :laugh:
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Postby David Whyld » Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:30 pm

My favourite author tends to vary a lot depending on which book I've just read. There was a time when I'd read a book, like it, and decide that the writer was my favourite author; then if their next book sucked they'd lose that position to the author of the next decent book I read. :)

For a while, my fave author was Stephen King. Many, many years ago when he wrote decent novels and not just the fillers he writes now. The last time I tried to read one of his novels, I just gave up about halfway through because there'd been about 10 pages of actual storyline and 300 pages of filler that was duller than dishwater.

Terry Pratchett has been my favouite comedy writer for as far back as I remember. Then again, I don't tend to read much else in the way of comedy so he's pretty much in a league of his own there. But Pratchett has always been in a league of his own and even if I read nothing but comedy fantasies day in and day out, he'd probably still be my favourite comedy author overall.

A science fiction author I've always admired is Robert Silverberg, although unfortunately he seems to have either retired now (he was 70 last year) or has slowed down to the degree that he's probably written his last novel. Pity.

As far as authors of fantasy novels are concerned, right now my favourite one is George R. R. Martin for his A Song Of Ice & Fire series which is probably going to take an eternity to be published, but will hopefully be well worth the wait.

I've also read a lot of fantasy books by Robin Hobb and while they're not in the same league as Martin's, they're still well worth reading.

Quite a few of the authors I liked years ago seem to have lost their edge recently. Dean Koontz's last few books have been painful and his characters are just plain bad (actually his characters have always been bad, but once he wrote really good novels so even when he populated them with cardboard cutouts, you could forgive him.); Terry Brooks just writes the same book over and over again; same with Raymond E. Feist. For a while I rated James P. Blaylock highly but now I'm beginning to lose interest in him. His whimsical fantasy novels seem to have been replaced by more run of the mill work and they're all the worse for it. I read a lot of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels over a period of years. Liked the early ones which were small and tightly written; disliked the later ones which were far larger but not anywhere near as interesting. Stephen Donaldson's early Thomas Covenant were brilliant but what the heck was he thinking when he wrote the last one? There's even more filler in it than the latest Stephen King 'thriller'. James Herbert used to write pretty decent horror novels but not any more. Same with Shaun Hutson. Robert Jordan's early Wheel Of Time novels weren't bad, but with his later ones he could give Stephen King a run for his money with regards to filler.




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Postby Ren » Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:25 pm

Silverburg is great. For the Valentine's Castle series and Up the Line alone.
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Postby David Whyld » Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:53 pm

Lord Valentine's Castle was the first Silverberg novel I read, and because of its fantasy background I had the idea that he was primarily a fantasy author. So it came as quite a surprise to find that the majority of what he wrote was sci-fi. A nice surprise though. Of all the sci-fi authors I've read novels by over the years, he's my favourite.

I'm not sure what I'd say his best novel is but I liked Dying Inside (about a psychic losing his powers), Shadrach In The Furnace and Tower Of Glass. Even his downright weird novels like Son Of Man are sort of wonderful in a strange kind of way.




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Postby Chenshaw » Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:09 am

Concerning contemporary fiction, Zadie Smith is definately the author I most look up to, and is one of my favourites. She wrote White Teeth at 24 or something like that - I couldn't even image writing about people the way she can. I'm almost finished with On Beauty, which I'm enjoying more than White Teeth, although it's got the same sort of epic character development.

Otherwise most of my favourite authors sit pretty firmly in the popular classics, because they are good reading and great observers of human nature: Tolstoy, Austin, the Brontes, Hardy, Dickens, Henry James.

I like pure escapism (especially for holiday or commuting reading), but those types of books never stay in my mind long, and I NEVER remember the author's names. Some books I look at on my bookshelf, and can't remember a single think about the plot or characters, or whether I liked it much or not.
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Postby MileStyle » Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:26 am

Favourite authors:


John Steinbeck
He has a rather varied output, mostly concerning itself with the Californian poor. His stories are bleak and show the hardships suffered and the resolve to overcome it. Also, he was not afraid to try more experimental works, such as Burning Bright, a play written as prose in three acts. Or his wartime propaganda novel, The Moon Is Down.

Roddy Doyle
This man is an amazing writer of dialogue. His prose isn't the best but there's hardly any in his books. Most of the story is told through his Irish people speaking to each other and the way in which he accomplishes this are incredible. Who needs prose when the spoken words show the scene while remaining completely natural.

Umberto Eco
Italian professor turns novelist and produces five novels of esoteric detail mixed with a love of pop culture. They chiefly derive from other stories but his focus is on the study of semiotics and signs, which his novels are filled with.

Kazuo Ishiguro
An author that writes narratives dealing with memory from the first person where the main character is usually deceiving themselves and, as their pasts unravel, you can look beyond what you are told to see the truth.

John Banville
Just read his prose. An immaculate stylist.

Richard Yates
He went out of print when he died in 1992 and was pretty much forgotten but, in the last five years, he has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Billed more as a writer's writer, its hard not to fall in love with the way Yates plays with each of his characters - as if they were puppets - by thrusting them into situations more and more desperate yet ultimately of their own making. These are people with dreams but without the drive to make their dreams a reality. And the way he tells story, delves into emotions, is so knowing you can't help but appreciate the honesty with which Yates tells his tales.

Vladimir Nabokov
Russian writer gets a few novels under his belt in Russian, moves to America and starts writing in English. What is amazing is the way in which Nabokov uses his second language - the writing is so playful, he uses puns and other wordgames with such ease, it's a wonder more native English speakers can't replicate such talent. An immense prose stylist.

Michel Faber
Dutch born, Australian raised, and Scottish resident, Faber is a prose chameleon. His tales - including his short stories - cover all manner of genres that it can be hard to pin him down yet there is something reassuringly familiar about his work. He seems to have an amazing grasp of writing female characters in the way that many men can't.

John Fante
Thirties author who wrote about Depression era American-Italians and their struggles. Partly autobiographical and his writing influenced Charles Bukowsky amongst a host of other Beat writers. Beautiful writing.

Italo Calvino
Cuban born Italian writer who was a master at experimental fiction. His output tried all manner of literary tricks. Short story collection The Castle of Crossed Destinies, for example, came about by picking two tarot cards per story and using them as inspiration. Check out if on a winter's night a traveler though - it's a novel about reading with you as the protagonist. Fantastic!
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Postby Sprite » Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:54 am

Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and (back in the day) Jacqueline Wilson.
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Postby Ren » Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:09 pm

I do really like Kazuo Ishiguro but he is such a one-trick-pony of a writer. Look, here's a tragic unreliable narrator, and another one, and another one, etc
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Postby MileStyle » Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:42 pm

Ren wrote:I do really like Kazuo Ishiguro but he is such a one-trick-pony of a writer. Look, here's a tragic unreliable narrator, and another one, and another one, etc

It's sad you would consider him a one trick pony. I think he is developing rather well.

His first three novels form a loose trilogy based around World War II. The first, A Pale View of Hills, brings a Japanese immigrant to the UK thus looking at the culture clash. The second, An Artist of the Floating World, looks at the aftermath of the war in Japan. And the closer, The Remains of the Day looks back at the war from an British perspective.

They also have the sense of denial in that the narrators can't face up to their past.

The next three flirt more with genre and rather than denial look at bewilderment. Here our narrators are confused by the situations they find themselves in. In the experimental The Unconsoled a concert pianist finds himself lost in a European city. When We Are Orphans plays with the detective novel. And Never Let Me Go is a subtle sci-fi.

The unreliable narrator technique is hardly one you could dismiss as a one-trick pony as there are so many avenues you can explore within it. Take, for example, the novels of Patrick McGrath: each narrator is not to be trusted for completely different reason.
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Postby Ren » Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:01 pm

As I said, I like him, but while I felt that the first three improved upon each other, they do all rely on an unreliable narrator who cannot admit the truth to themselves.

The almost narrative cheat of understanding our similar protagonists as we see them through their misinterpretation of the way other people see them (i.e. we realise the truth of the central character when he misreads the reactions of those around him, a misreading which is more an unwillingness to accept the truth - or a narrative cheat depending on how you look at it - than an inability to see the truth).

Of the latter three, I have only read When We Were Orphans, (though I am intending to take a look at Never Let Me Go soon) and I don't remember it that well, so that may account for my not noting his progress.

On Patrick McGrath, I only know Spider and that's because I've seen the film, which I liked. Extrapolating a little, the protagonist in Spider can't see the truth because he is psychologically damaged in a way which the characters in Kazuo Ishiguro are not. Additionally, if the film follows the book closely (which it did seem to), the 'twist' in Spider is revealed mid-way through, making it less of a twist (as Philip K. Dick tends to do in, for instance, A Scanner Darkly). Kazuo Ishiguro seems to save things for a little later on.

The full sense of who the central character in Artist of the Floating World is doesn't come out until the very end, as it does, albeit it to a lesser extent, in Remains of the Day.
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