Comparatively Fantastic! Our favourite authors

Welcome to the Official Terry Pratchett Forums
Register here for the official Terry Pratchett forum and message boards.
Sign up

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#1
Come in and talk about your other favourite authors – why do you like them? Would Pterry fans enjoy their books as well perhaps? They don’t have to be SF&F writers – or even of fiction. Maybe you enjoy biographies? Or travel writers? Whoever floats your boat and of course so long as you find their books interesting and enjoyable. :laugh:

Although this is intended to be a relaxed and informal thread and going off 'topic' may happen and even be encouraged, it's always nice to see a bit of friendly debate and deeper discussion, so please don't be shy about waxing lyrical - I will be! ;)
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#2
Right now I'm loving, just loving Mike Carey. He's a comic book writer, but I'm not going to talk about my favourite comic book writers as I'll be here all week! It's the novels he's written that are my obsession at the moment. He writes a series of novels based around a character called Felix Castor, set in an alternative but modern day London and he's an exorcist. The premise of the universe he's created is that around the Millenium ghosts, demons, werewolves (called loup-garous as they are ghosts that possess and shape animal hosts) and zombies started to become common place and are now largely accepted as being real.

They're detective novels really and completely absorbing.

Other than that, I enjoy Kim Newman, Eoin Colfer, Douglas Adams... there's a theme here isn't there? I like books that are about real people but not necessarily in the real world. I like books about how people cope with a world that doesn't obey the normal rules. I like authors who make me think and entertain me at the same time, and who give me an education while they're at it.
 

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#3
Jarmara - I'm beginning to think more and more that comedic writing could be the salvation of civilisation - we don't laugh enough do we and everyone seems to take things so seriously? Respect is also a much vaunted requirement and causes no end of trouble - mainly because the people who seem to demand it most, tend to forget that it has to be earned first... Comedy, satire, parody and lampooning have been the tried and tested weapon used against 'the powers that be' since medieval times and probably much longer, so there's nothing to be ashamed of in admitting a partiality to authors who pull things off to the calibre of Pterry or Douglas Adams and so many others who entertain so well at the same time as they inform and make us think.

I like this idea of the loup-garous - so if they're ghosts and 'possessing' animals (so not always wolves?) then they're not the 'allergic to silver and only get out of a full moon' kind then? 'Re-invention' of familiar supernaturals is always interesting as is a change in direction from an author's usual subject matter and here I can get a little more informed with Douglas Adams who's the only one in your list I've read (I am fearfully in a rut with books these last few years). I adored his Hitchhiker's Guide series so when he switched from sci-fi to 'holistic crime' books in the Dirk Gently books I was very apprehensive when I got the second one (I think) The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul? I was delighted and it caught me almost immediately, which was admittedly a relief because the last two Hikers books took some perseverence! Thor's difficulty in dealing with the modern world was hilarious and I am so sure that JK Rowling pinched Dumbledore's electric light snuffer from that bit where Thor goes down the street exploding the lights.... :twisted: And then of course there's Adams' work on Dr Who and Blake's Seven :) - which ones did you find most interesting?

Detective/crime writing isn't really something I've read an awful lot of - but then actually I have because I love the Watch of course. :rolleyes: So I know all about themes and addictions where authors are concerned! :laugh: I haven't read the other two authors you mention - what kind of work do they do - besides being funny of course? ;)
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#4
Jamara, can I just ask one thing? When you say "comic book wrter", do you mean he writes comical books or 'comic' books - as in graphic novels? I've not heard of Mike Carey, but he sounds worth looking out for. :)

And Jan, I agree about comedic writing. Terry's books have got me through some very bad times.
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#5
Tony - When I say comic book writer, I mean what some people call graphic novels. It's not a term that really fits, but explaining why would be a whole other thread and I don't want to derail Jan's intentions to that extent! :laugh:

Jan - They're not all funny like Terry is funny, although there are often funny moments. Carey is not comedy primarily, a lot of the stuff is quite dark. Silver in his universe is a potent weapon against all the dead, not just the loup-garous. In one novel Castor set fire to a can of movie film (covered in silver) in a fight against a room full of demons, loup and ghosts. Religious wards work against them too, but they're not terribly potent if you don't actually have the belief behind them to beef things up.

Kim Newman, if you read Empire magazine you'll know him as a film reviewer and a very good one. Some years ago he wrote a set of novels set in a bizarre universe containing literary characters from the age the book is set in (the first one was Victorian) mixed with real history and the prevailing conceit was that of Jack The Ripper and Stoker's Dracula, except Van Helsing et al lost against the Vampire and he is now married to Queen Victoria, being a vampire is both the new craze for Society people and a curse upon the impoverished.

Eoin Colfer is supposed to be a childrens writer, he writes about Artemis Fowl, boy genius and criminal mastermind and his involvement with the Fairy People, who live hidden from humankind (Mudmen) far underground with extremely advanced technology.

I do love comedy in fiction, I love real darkness in fiction but I do insist on well written fiction with intelligence behind it.
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#6
Thanks for clearlinf that up. :) I've never really got into 'graphic novels' although I do have the Discworld ones and find them quite interesting.
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#7
Yeah, I used to be the same. I thought it was all Superman and Batman and other people in spandex fighting bad people who also wear spandex and found it dull.

Then I met my now husband and was drawn into his world. I'm still not keen on the Superhero stuff, unless it's subversive but there's a whole world of deeply affecting and brilliant writers out there doing things no regular publisher would touch. Some of the best writing going on in Britain today is in the comics genre.
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#8
Which sort of brings me to Neil Gaiman. I haven't read any of his graphic novels, but I have read quite a few of his actual books and really enjoyed them. I'd certainly recommend him without any hesitation.

A lot of us know him through Good Omens, which he wrote with some other guy. ;) His own writing is funny but a lot darker than Terry's I'd say. Not that Terry doesn't write 'dark' very well - he does. But Gaiman is different. When Terry was asked who wrote what in Good Omens he replied that anything with maggots in was Neil. :laugh:

So far I've read Neverwhere, which was based (I understand) on the TV series, Stardust, which had a really rather good movie made of it - although the book is better - American Gods and Anansi Boys. Gaiman's writing is similar to Terry's in that he obviously knows a great deal about a lot of things and he includes that knowledge in the books. So there is a lot of myth, folklore and legend in the stories. I particularly enjoyed American Gods which is a sort of who-dun-it of the Gods and Anansi Boys which is very funny.

And I really need to read them again as, with me it takes a couple of readings of a book for it to sink firmly into my brain. However, the advantage of that is that I can read a book I've read before as if it was the first reading. ;)
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#9
I actually believe American Gods should be required reading for every human :laugh:

I'm rather keen to read Neil's new childrens book, The Graveyard Book, it's on my birthday list!
 

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#10
Jarmara - feel free to derail away as that's an interesting point. I fully understand why you'd call them comic books rather than 'graphic novels' which to me is mostly a self-aggrandising term that doesn't really deliver - with notable exceptions. As for the Marvel & Stan Lee style comics - I loved them! When I was 8... :rolleyes: Me & my 'boyfriend' used to go to this little newsagent every Saturday to see what was new and I wish I knew what happened to some of the stuff I bought back then. I liked Batman (& the Adam West TV show) and the Incredible Hulk most (actually IH is quite a seminal hero as I'm very much in awe of his route with anger management - yet another story you don't want to know! :laugh: )

Superman - too goody-goody I think, certainly these days as he's not 'cool' at all but I did get a Summer Special Superman edition and that was really fun - it had Supergirl and stuff about Kryptonite and origins on the home planet and most bizarrely SuperHorse! :rolleyes: actually that was quite interesting and pretty mythic in that the Horse was once a centaur (so an ancient Greek) and fell in love with some woman and went to get his other 'half' made human but was tricked and got the other half of the horse instead - and somewhere or other he got wings too! :eek: And of course that's a direct and very unoriginal steal from classical tales but I was also into Narnia big time at this age and so I found that juxtaposition fascinating and of course showed me where my true interest lay - but it's a broad church at least...

Neil Gaiman's cool! - Good Omens is a great book. I knew there was a Neverwhere on TV (it had Lenny Henry in it - or something to do with it?) but I only saw the first episode and then it seemed to disappear (or maybe I just had more of a life back then) - so he wrote that too and just carried on presumably?

I have heard of Artemis Fowl so by default I 'know' Eoin Colfer and find your reference to his Mudmen once again lowering my opinion of Ms JK Rowling and her addiction to collecting other people's ideas... :rolleyes:

I'll save my other favourites for another time - and of course one of those you already know! :oops: :)
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#11
I found the complete series of Neverwhere on YouTube. ;) Lenny Henry was (I believe) a producer. He wasn't actually in the series if I remember correctly.
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#12
Well, Graphic Novel is a term often used by people who want to distance themselves from the comic because they think it devalues the product. It only really works for books that were always intended to come out in a complete story arc bound together, such as the Graphic Discworlds.

If you've got a serialisation, say a story arc published in 6 parts or whatever, that's a comic. If after that serialisation is complete the publisher puts all the parts together and binds them into one book, you have what is known as a Trade Paperback.

The genre covers so much more than superheroes, almost every sphere of writing is contained within it somewhere. People don't often realise but Wanted, From Hell,300, Sin City, Road To Perdition and A History Of Violence, were all films based on comics. And not a Big Blue Boyscount amongst them :laugh:
 

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#13
:laugh: He did look good in that blue spandex though and you gotta admit the red cape's kind of alluring too ;) - although the Batsuit is soooo much better! :twisted:
But of course you're quite right and the genre's much, much broader (and fleshed out) than that these days. I guess I'm too reactionary and equate having to lavishly/dramatically illustrate a tale to that extent as 'trivialising' or diverting attention away from what can be (in some cases) a not terribly good storyline? :oops:

I never expected to say this, but what are people's views on the fairy tale effect, particularly the 'Cinderella' concept in 'the thinking person's' literature? I suppose I mean in relation to how we perceive and define a 'good' story? When I really analyse what I like read, it so often comes to the much maligned, disadvantaged and/or beleaguered hero triumphing against the odds - or more often an oppressor(s). Terry's heroes, certainly in the stand alones, often have Cinderella/fellas and even in the serials - I'm thinking mainly of Agnes Nitt here actually who is a very feisty and fascinating Cinderella of course! :laugh: Views?
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#15
Jan Van Quirm said:
But of course you're quite right and the genre's much, much broader (and fleshed out) than that these days. I guess I'm too reactionary and equate having to lavishly/dramatically illustrate a tale to that extent as 'trivialising' or diverting attention away from what can be (in some cases) a not terribly good storyline? :oops:
I see what you're getting at but I'd say that was a misunderstanding of the comic genre too. A comic is not a picture book, the story is not written then illustrated. It's a co-creation, writer and artist working together to create a universe. The story is no longer fettered with descriptive scene setting or long sojourns into the internal monologue of the main character, it's all there on the page so you can get on with the story. Read some Alan Moore, then tell me about weak storylines. Better yet, see if you can't find a download of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan, preferably issue 8. Or Garth Ennis' Preacher...

As for Cinderella... I'm not sure I'd apply that term to a story that simply followed a hero through trials to a triumphant end, hell you say that fitted any story, anywhere! Cinderella to me suggests a rags to riches, happily ever after formula.
 

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#16
:laugh: I did qualify it by saying - diverting attention away from what can be (in some cases) a not terribly good storyline? I have read some graphic non-superhero novels and enjoyed them to read and to look at, but I guess I've never yet got over the prejudice that they're 'proper' works of fiction (or whatever) where by and large (except for dustjacket and maybe a few plates) its you and the author working at the inner visualisation aspect?

And I do draw and paint myself (the latter digitally these days admittedly) so I know exactly what you mean. But then if you take that to a logical conclusion why bother publishing it in 'novel' form at all? Just use the plot & artwork to storyboard/script a movie which is even more easy to absorb?

I've grown up with a vivid imagination I suppose so I mostly don't need the visual input. Some authors are bloody annoying and don't do much in the way of descriptive writing and even the best of them - my 'god' Tolkien being numbered amongst these as he was shocking with his lack of physical info on characters - so yes of course artist/writer combos are often highly sophisticated and successful.

In the end I suppose its down to personal preference and your own reading/comprehension ability to some extent maybe? And I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion as such (though I guess to some extent it's down to what 'sort' of books you associate with GNs). For instance I can't see and certainly wouldn't read something by Trollope or Austen in that format, although I did read a modern adaptation of Madame Bovary (Gemma Bovary) as a GN (although that was in some respects a spoof). So I guess I'm a snob about these things in the end - but not as much a one as my sister who refuses and still does refuse to watch Peter Jackson's LotR Trilogy because 'it will spoil my vision of the books'.

Maybe we should agree to differ on this one :)

Cinderella was perhaps too much of a literal blanket term - but that also depends on how you define 'happy endings'. Mine don't necessary confine themselves or even have to be rags to riches.
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#17
:laugh: Terry is particularly bad at describing his characters physically in most cases. However, that's fine by me. I don't need a picture to imagine a character and sometimes someone else's image can be just plain wrong in my head.

I once had a conversation with a guy I know who didn't see the point of books at all and thought that they should just concentrate on making movies. Shades of Farenheit 451 there. Escaping into a good book is a pleasure in itself and a great stimulus for the mind and imagination.

I am in no way decrying graphic novels or comics - they are an art form in their own right and in some ways just another way of putting across a story in the same way that books, movies and theatre are. But I have to admit that I don't have a lot of experience of them. :)
 

Jarmara

Lance-Corporal
Aug 1, 2008
152
0
2,275
West Yorkshire
www.brisinga.co.uk
#18
Yeah, well bad writing is bad writing, a weak plot is a weak plot and will fail in comic form just as much as in standard form. The average comic book reader these days is a man in this 30's with a degree, not someone to be easily distracted by all the pretty pictures :laugh:

I'm not suggesting comics are superior to normal books, clearly not as I'm on this forum because I do read non-comics. I don't even own the graphic discworld books as I don't see the need. All I'm saying is they're not inferior by any means and deserve as much respect as any other form of fiction. I may also be suggesting that to reject the format out of hand would be to miss out on some very excellent writing. I can get a bit soap-boxy about it though :oops:
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,600
112
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#19
Jarmara said:
I'm not suggesting comics are superior to normal books, clearly not as I'm on this forum because I do read non-comics. I don't even own the graphic discworld books as I don't see the need. All I'm saying is they're not inferior by any means and deserve as much respect as any other form of fiction. I may also be suggesting that to reject the format out of hand would be to miss out on some very excellent writing. I can get a bit soap-boxy about it though :oops:
Absolutely! :laugh:
 

Jan Van Quirm

Sergeant-at-Arms
Nov 7, 2008
8,524
0
2,800
Dunheved, Kernow
www.janhawke.me.uk
#20
And the artwork for it's own sake is wonderful as well - as we saw with the various Discworld fanart that you put up in the art thread Tony?

Actually just backing up a little on your point about GNs being a close collaborative process between writer and artist/illustrator Jarmara, with that of course you would get a truer visual the writer's vision of his characters and landscapes supporting the words. And in other cases maybe the art comes first and helps the writer to develop the attitude of characters and define environments - I think most animation studios certainly have their artists (trad or cgi) work in tandem or collectively with writers and live actors too for visual characterisation certainly, but also to ensure the action sequences 'work' well and the hero doesn't run like a girl... :p (as opposed to vocal sound track/drawing synchronisation which is actually done quite early on in the animation process).

So yes I can and do see how it is a distinct literary form and like any others there are great works and not so great - although I'm not so sure about 30 something men with degrees as an indication of inherent quality and integrity - but then I will admit to being completely jaundiced if not downright prejudiced in that dept... :twisted:
 

Book of the Month

Moving Pictures

"Pratchett’s wackiness collaborates with Gaiman’s morbid humour; the result is a humanist delight to be savoured and read again and again."

User Menu

Newsletter