So, you thought we were done with the University of Fantasy? For shame. We just needed to give all of you readers time to catch up with all the great novels we’d already suggested to you.
Coming up with lists for Fantasy 202 was actually a challenge for us. Novels just didn’t come readily to mind. What ended up helping us was when we were discussing people’s aversion to Horror. You see, people have this mental block when it comes to Horror. They all tend to think that Horror is all blood and gore, or that it is all crappy campy like Scream (Did you know they have another Scream movie in the works? So absurd…). The reality is that that good Horror should be able to scare you with no violence. It should be able to scare you with ideas and suspense. Also, what people need to realize is that Horror is just another face of Fantasy. Urban Fantasy? Could be called Urban Horror. Dark Fantasy? Some of it could be called Horror Fantasy. You get the drift. Horror has made a huge impact on the fantasy genre. So, our lists will have some good classic Horror mixed in with some other fun stuff! Enjoy!
Way of the Wolf:
Nick got me to read these novels when we first met, and I’m glad I listened to him. Urban Fantasy in a future where an alien race (part of which are vampire-ish creatures) have taken over the world. Everything is a mix of civil war, world war, and modern eras. EE Knight has created an amazing main character in this series, and gives us an near-perfect lesson in how a character should progress over the course of a series.
The Color of Magic:
Not many people get humor right in the fantasy genre. Oh sure, there may be some funny lines in a novel here and there, but not a full novel dedicated to humor, parody, and satire. I have a huge level of respect for Terry Pratchett (I know!! A person with the name Terry who isn’t terribad!!). He manages to not only write with extreme skill, but he can make a reader laugh with seemingly little effort. THE COLOR OF MAGIC is widely considered to be the least of his novels, but it was my introduction to Discworld. Some of you readers emailed and asked us why we didn’t include it in Fantasy 102. To really understand what makes Pratchett so great, you need to have read a bit in the genre (and even outside the genre). Sure you will laugh a little without this background knowledge, but with it, you will be awed by the genius of Pratchett’s work.
Brian Lumley got his start writing stories in Lovecraft’s classic Cthulhu Mythos (see Nick’s picks below). My theory is that Lumley took Cthulhu, made it mini, and put it in people as a parasite that turns them into a vampire. How awesome is THAT! NECROSCOPE follows the horrors faced by Harry Keogh, a guy with ESP who can talk with the dead. The vampires in this novel (and series) are true monsters. There is no redemption for them. They won’t sparkle at you or play baseball with you. They will destroy you body and soul…if you’re lucky. If you want a true example of the monster that is Vampire, Necroscope is the place to start.
Interview With The Vampire:
Moody, dark, and evocative, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is, for many, the penultimate vampire tale, surpassing even Dracula or Nosferatu. The mechanism for telling this story is what I love most about it. Yes there are vampires who prey on humans, spread their curse, etc., and all of that is fantastic but what really draws me to it is how human the vampires are depicted. Anne Rice does this through a first-person confession of one of the vampires. For anyone who hasn’t read this series, it should be a must-add to your reading list. (You thought I was going to say something about one of the two authors-who-shall-not-be-named, didn’t you?)
The premise is at once bizarre, ambitious, and surreal. Old Gods that migrated to America, with their worshippers, are preparing for Gaiman’s equivalent of Ragnarok. This book will etch itself into your memory forever. The book is not without drawbacks, however it very quickly draws you in to the experiences of it’s main character, Shadow and his God-in-disguise companion Wednesday (Odin). The book also resonates quite quickly with non-fantasy readers, as it is Gaiman’s thoughts and reflections of the American identity. Ever thought a person’s dead wife couldn’t make for an interesting character? This book proves you wrong.
The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre:
Whew…what a title. While it would have been nice to pick out one of the stories included and give it my thumbs up, since all of them really are unique and distinct, I couldn’t do it. Lovecraft’s power lies, not only his his artistry and ability to create horrific, extremely moody situations, but the myriad of possibilities he created. Lovecraft is the master of horror, and someone to whom nearly all horror writers can trace some inspiration to.