Wednesday, May 7, 2008
What Should I do #7: New Authors


For the last couple months, I've been meaning to bring some books to your attention. I would think to myself: "Self, you should really mention this book to people your blog."

But then I'd get busy. Or some time-sensitive piece of news would come up, like a book signing or making the New York Times list. Or I'd be distracted by something shiny, or edible, or both.

So, without further ado, here are some authors that you might not be aware of.


David Keck - In The Eye of Heaven.





I read David Keck's book couple years back and really enjoyed it, but there is a caveat: This is not your typical fantasy novel.

We all know most fantasy novels are set in fairly generic medieval settings. The world Keck creates is different. His world is dark ages. Mankind is not on the top of the food chain, and the world is full of dangerous, mythic forces that are not to be fucked with.

At the same time the story remains very realistic. I don't think I've ever read another book that does a better job of depicting the real hardships of a mercenary knight in the dark ages. His description of an injured knight going to a dentist was delightfully spot-on.

Keck's writing style is unique as well. His descriptions are brief, almost poetic in places. Very different than the long, ponderous description that is common with so many fantasy novels these days. To use an artistic analogy: this book is more like a Monet painting than a photograph.

Because of this, the story feels almost dreamlike at times, as the main character moves back and forth between the harsh realities of tournament combat and strange dealings with otherworldly powers. I think this element of Keck's writing caught a lot of readers unprepared, and let to some unfair reviews of his work. You don't bitch because a Monet painting is blurry. It's supposed to be that way, that's the effect the artist was trying to achieve....

The second book in Keck's series came out fairly recently (In a Time of Treason). But starting a series with the second book is not civilized behavior, and people who do it go to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

Anyway, I really enjoyed liked it. But be warned: This is not your typical fantasy novel.


Anton Strout - Dead to Me.





As a fellow fantasy author and one of the founding members of the League of Reluctant Adults, you would think that Anton Strout would be my friend. In fact, it would be reasonable for you to assume that he has my respect and admiration.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Strout is, among other things, my mortal enemy. The sordid details of our long-standing feud are multifarious, and I cannot in good conscience list them in a blog that children might read.

Suffice to say that I have many worthwhile reasons to scorn the man, none of which have to do with the fact that he seems to have more luck with the ladies than I do. Nevertheless, I am a gentleman, so I'll mention his book here. Just to show that I am the better person.

I have not read his first book myself, for obvious reasons, but I've heard others say good things. They say that it's urban fantasy with a strong comic twist. Charline Harris gave him a glowing blurb, so if you like her stuff, you might like his too.



Jim Hines - Goblin Quest.





One of my favorite things is when fantasy authors play with the conventions of the genre. Joss Whedon, of course, is the champion of this. The whole premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer starts with the question, "What if that ditsy, helpless blond who gets killed in the horror movie actually kicked some ass instead of running away then falling down?"

Hines is good at playing this game too, except he asks a different question: "What do Goblins do when they're not getting killed by adventurers?"

These are fun books. They're lighthearted, humorous, and have some good storytelling to boot. Best of all, Hines takes the time to actually create a well-developed world for the stories to take place in, complete with a fresh cosmology, and a unique goblin culture.

Added bonus? Hines has written the next two books in the series: Goblin Hero and Goblin War. They're already in print, so you don't have to wait to read the rest of the series, unlike... um... some other authors. Who will remain nameless.


I think I'll stop at three. If you want more, you can always check out my previous recommendations by clicking on the "recommendations" label down below. Elegant in its simplicity, isn't it?

Later all,

pat

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Ursula K. Le Guin


Did I mention that Ursula K. Le Guin read my book?

Did I mention that Ursula K. Le Guin liked my book?

Did I mention that Ursula K. Le Guin agreed to provide a blurb for the book?

"It is a rare and great pleasure to find a fantasist writing not only with the kind of accuracy of language absolutely essential to fantasy-making, but with real music in the words as well. Wherever Pat Rothfuss goes with the big story that begins with The Name of the Wind, he'll carry us with him as a good singer carries us through a song."

Yeah. Can I get a "wow" from the audience?

On a closely related note, if you've never read her Wizards of Earthsea books, you really need to. Not only are they absolutely brilliant, but they're one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy.





If you have read the Earthsea books, you should make sure you've checked out her more recent stuff too. She writes at a consistently awesome level that I hope to emulate over the years.

I've got a cool announcement to make, but you'll have to wait for Friday. It's a leap-day announcement. It's nothing HUGE, but... well... I think it's pretty cool....

Oh, and lastly, the deadline for nominating books for the Hugo ballot is only a couple days away. So if you were planning on doing it, but you're like me and you tend to forget what day it is, don't be caught unawares....

Later all,

pat

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007
What Should I do #2 - Something Positive.
Today was a glorious day, my friends. A day I have long dreamed of. A day that was foretold in the.. um... earliness. Of the world. Forsooth.

Today is the day I received my first royalty check.

Now I hope this doesn't make me seem shallow, but the honest truth is that I've been more excited about this check arriving than I was to see the first copy of the book. Not that I wasn't all tingly over the book, mind you. But things have been pretty tight lately around the house of Pat. Ramen has been on the menu again.

What's more, my personal gaelets, Visa and Mastercard, had stopped sending letters and decided instead that it would be better to hire burly men to stand across the street from my house, clutching broken pool cues and giving me meaningful looks.

But now I am safe from them. For a while at least.

For this week's What-Should-I-Do Tuesday, let me (hopefully) introduce you to a few new people.

First is an author I expect many of you already know, especially if you make a point of reading high-quality fantasy: Tim Powers.

While all of his books are good, my personal favorites are Last Call and Declare. Though a friend of mine swears that an earlier work of his, Anubis Gates, is the best thing ever.

The second author is someone much newer to the scene: Brandon Sanderson.

I read his book Mistborn recently when I was on a trip, and I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought the sequel, The Well of Ascension, in hardcover at full price. Twenty seven bucks that I could not really afford, despite the fact that credit card thugs were standing across the street from my house. But it was money well spent.

And lastly, a webcomic that I'm fond of: Something Positive.

Dark, sarcastic, cynical humor at its finest. Not for the easily offended or the faint of heart. But in addition to the humor that's scattered throughout his comic, I have to say that Randy Milholland really knows how to tell a good story, parts of his comic are really poignant, heart touching, and true.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, a while back he was nice enough to mention me in some fairly good company.


Lastly and leastly, today (the 10th) is the last day you can vote for Name of the Wind for to win "Book of the Year" in the Quill awards. If you're interested, you should HEAD OVER HERE and click on "Vote Now!" link.

And I'm off to bed,

pat

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007
What should I do #1 - Cat and Girl

Welcome to the first instalment of something I'm going to call "What-Should-I-do Tuesdays."

Over the last several months I've received many e-mails where at some point the person says something very similar to this:

[...] I can't wait for the sequel. Write faster! I don't know what I'm going to do with myself until your next book comes out. [...]
I usually thought of this a just a rhetorical comment until I got this e-mail:

Hi, Pat!

I was catching up on your blog and realized that one thing that would make it even better would be a list of your favorite authors, movies, games, etc... Clearly, you are a Joss Weedon fan, adore Orson Scott Card, and so on. It's likely you could turn us, your humble audience, on to some other great stuff you like. I'd love to read your recommendations.

Kelly,

So I thought, why kill two birds with one stone. I turn you on to some good authors AND keep you from wasting away while you wait for book two.

Since this is the first week, let's start at the top.

If you like good fantasy, you have to read Neil Gaiman.

If you're into novels, I suggest starting with Neverwhere or Stardust. If you like comics, I suggest reading his Sandman series. Read it in the proper order too, or the continuity gods will strike you down.

Another of the best and brightest in the fantasy Genre is Terry Pratchett. He has written a metric ton of novels over the years. A few of them are merely great, but most of them are hands-down excellent. It isn't that vital that you read them all in order, but I still recommend trying to start with some of the earlier books first, as there are continuing characters and plot lines.

And finally, a webcomic that I'm guessing many of you have never heard of. It's not fantasy, but it is one of my favorites. It's funny, clever, and has healthy doses of social satire. Other comics out there might be funnier, or have more stylish art. But Cat and Girl is possibly the smartest comic I've ever read. And it does it without getting snobby or preachy, and it makes me laugh too. It may not be for all of you, but I'm guessing that some of you will really dig it. Browse the archives and find out.


In other news, I'm going to be down at a new convention in Madison this weekend - Geek Kon.

Details are on the tour schedule page, but here are some of the panels I'll be doing....

SATURDAY,
4pm - Lord of the Rings
6pm - Defining the Genres

SUNDAY
12 noon - SF/F Roundtable
1pm - The 36-Hour Day in Flatland

On Sunday I'm also have a reading/booksigning at Room of One's Own just off State Street. It's at 3:00.

Note: Those of you sending books out to me to get them signed, please remember to pack them carefully. One showed up today that had just been dropped in a box with no padding at all. It was banged up pretty badly and the dustjacket was in shreds. If you want specific advice about packaging, check out the details at the end of the blog I wrote on the subject.

Later all,

pat

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Sunday, June 24, 2007
Orson Scott Card likes the book.
The bland, matter-of-fact-ness of the above title in no way reflects my authory delight at discovering this NEWS POST by an author you might have heard of, Orson Scott Card.

The bit about the Name of the Wind about halfway down the page. For those of you who are link-phobic or too lazy to dig the piece about my book out of Card's long, multifarious post. Here's the good bits version:

Not a word of the nearly-700-page book is wasted. Rothfuss does not pad. He's the great new fantasy writer we've been waiting for, and this is an astonishing book. [...]

If you're a reader of fantasy or simply someone who appreciates a truly epic-scale work of fiction, don't go through this summer without having read it. At the very least it will keep you busy till the last Harry Potter comes out. But I warn you -- after The Name of the Wind, the Harry Potter novel might seem a little thin and -- dare I say it? -- childish. You have been warned.

Yeah. I'll take that.

Did I mention that it was ORSON SCOTT CARD who wrote it?

Anyway, I just got back from a family weekend and I'm digging my way out from under about 500-600 emails. So if you're waiting for a response from me, thanks for your patience. If you're not waiting, that's fine too. You just keep on not waiting. That'll work out just fine.

Later,

pat

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Thursday, May 10, 2007
Something I forgot....
Tonight I got an e-mail from a friend who just discovered Robin Hobb's review of my book. I wasn't surprised that they were geeking out about it, but I was surprised that they had only found out about it now, over a month after the fact. I told them that if they kept an eye on my blogs, they'd get a heads-up when cool things like this happened.

They told me that they did read the blogs, and that I'd never mentioned it.

I didn't believe them, of course, but looking through my previous blogs proved them right. That's when I realized this must have been one of the things I meant to write about, then didn't. This happens with unfortunate regularity.

What happened was this. Last year, when we were trying to collect author blurbs for the back of the book, I mentioned that I'd love to get a quote from Robin Hobb. I've loved her stuff for years. When I read her Assassin books back in the day, they gave me hope that my character-centered story might actually be publishable.

I scraped together all the courage in my timid Midwestern self, and introduced myself to Robin through e-mail. She was gracious enough to accept an ARC of the book (Advance Reading Copy) but told me straight up that she was really busy with deadlines, and that she usually doesn't read or blurb new authors. There just weren't enough hours in the day. I told her I understood entirely, and that I was flattered that she was willing to talk with me and accept a copy of the book.

Months passed, and we got blurbs from some great authors: Williams and Anderson and Brooks and more. I didn't hear from Robin, and I figured she was still working against her deadline. I liked that option better than the though that she'd given it a try and simply didn't like it. It must have been her deadlines. Of course.

Then, about a week before my book's publication date, I got an unexpected e-mail. Robin told me she'd finally got around to reading it, and she thought it was great. What's more, she actually went out of her way to post a review up on Amazon. As it was too late to get a blurb from her on the cover.

To put it simply, I was filled with geeky joy. That's probably why I forgot to write up a little blog about it. I was too tingly.

So for those of you who haven't already seen it. Here's a link to the review on my page. Or, if you'd prefer, you can go check it out directly on the Amazon site.

For you Hobb fans out there, sorry I didn't mention this before. Better late than never.

pat

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