The OF Blog: Five years ago

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Five years ago

Sometimes, bloggers can get a bit too caught up "in the moment," spending so much time trying to find "what's next," sometimes with the effect of one's "hot" reads being akin to a disposable camera, used and then discarded. A year before I began the OF Blog, I remember being introduced to a few books/authors and pimping them on wotmania's Other Fantasy section. In no particular order...

1. Kelly Link, Stranger Things Happen - I had seen Link's name mentioned here and there (maybe on Fantastic Metropolis back when that site was active?) and I decided I had to own it. I bought it a few months when I still lived in south Florida, but it wasn't until a month or two after I moved back to Tennessee that I finally got around to reading it. I wish I hadn't waited so long, since Link's work is that damn good. Even though it contains many reprints, I'm going to buy her latest collection next week because stories like "The Specialist's Hat" are just superb.

2. Jeff VanderMeer, City of Saints and Madmen - I bought this book in the old $40 hardcover Prime PoD edition at the urging of a friend of mine at wotmania, Keith. Like the Link, it took me a few months before I got around to reading it (I was working full time at a depressing teaching position in West Palm Beach, and reading was not on my mind then), but it pushed the right buttons for me.

3. China Miéville, The Tain - Although I was introduced to him (again at the urging of Keith) in late 2002, it wasn't until I bought this limited-edition novella that I began to appreciate fully Miéville's talents as a writer. I still think this is his best writing and despite my copy now being worth hundreds of dollars and having the same story in two other collections, no way in hell am I selling it.

4. Jeffrey Ford, The Physiognomy; Memoranda; The Beyond - I'll say more on these books next week (hopefully), but they were my gateway to Ford and for that, I am forever grateful for having heard of them back then.

5. Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow; Children of God - I found Emilio Sandoz's conflicted character and his tortured story to be one of the more moving reads of that year (and in recent years). I have yet to re-read it, probably because it takes a while to steel oneself for processing that sort of story again.

6. Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life - I had become aware of Chiang after his award-winning story, "Hell is the Absence of God" was made available as a free e-book read in the summer of 2003. I quickly bought his collection and I still think it is one of the strongest overall collections I have ever read.

7. Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves - This is one of the few "horror" novels that spooked me out and made me feel claustrophobic inside my own home when I read it in 2003. Trying to decide when I'm going to dare re-read it.

There are other good-to-great reads from that year, but they were by authors I had begun to read in previous years. Not too bad for a year, huh? It'll be curious to see which 2008 discoveries I'll remember as fondly in 2013. Any of you have books from that time period that you still recall fondly?


Joe King said...

Am I inhuman? I just finished the Sparrow and while I enjoyed it as a story, the emotional bits and the main hanging point itself were completely lost to me. Maybe it is because as a left-wing atheist, I find Catholic morals on prostitution and the like appalling. The storyline which was set in the present day seemed pretty preposterous and idiotic to me since they were basing their disdain and investigation on that stupid point. Seems they never even considered whether or not it was a matter of choice. And of course, even if it was a matter of choice, their reaction was still incredibly overdone. Maybe I need to walk the halls of the High Catholic Orders and see if that is a realistic reaction. But for me, it almost ruined the novel. Lucky it was really interesting on the other points of first contact and so on. Even some good religious points. But the main thrust of the story was completely silly.

Joe King said...

Main plot point rather.

Anonymous said...

Not an epic Fantasy among them, all the books seem rather similar.

Lsrry said...


I was talking about authors/books I discovered that year, so why would I list any epic fantasies that I might have read that year? Plus, those seven books have quite a few major differences between them, so should I presume that you haven't read many (or any) of them?


No, you're not inhuman. I suspect much of the "moral tension" depends upon whether or not you can buy into what Sandoz was experiencing. Apparently it was a bit difficult for you, due to your beliefs that such Catholic-centric matters are appalling, so it wouldn't be a surprise at all if it dampened things for you.

I do agree that the First Contact element was the best and that was much of what struck me as being tragic/moving.

Wm. said...

Hey Larry, I keep meaning to ask. What does the 'OF' in OF Blog stand for.

Do you read any George MacDonald?

Lsrry said...

It stands for "Other Fantasy," as it originally was meant to be an extension of wotmania's Other Fantasy section.

As for George MacDonald, I've only read his Lilith, which I was was good, but I understand it isn't his best work.

Wm. said...

Oh, now the OF part doesn't seem so unwieldy since now I know its etymology.

Five years ago or so I started guzzling everything I could find by MacDonald. 'Lilith' I liked less than 'Phantastes,' which I liked even less than 'At the Back of the North Wind.' Although now if I went back the list would probably be reversed. We change so much in five years, it seems.


Add to Technorati Favorites