With this being Labor Day Weekend, and with Monday being a national holiday, which typically means little traffic at the site, I thought I would post something a little lighter than usual. If you happen across the post and feel like playing along, great. If not, no problem.
Throughout this summer, which unofficially ends this weekend, we’ve talked about lots of things — villains, titles, many aspects of writing and creative process. And I thought I would weigh in on a few of these in the most superficial way possible. Sounds like fun, right? I know. I’m all excited, too.
So here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites, either in category form or list form. I can safely say that I heartily recommend every book and film mentioned in what follows. Enjoy!
Favorite Fantasy Title: As I say, we’ve talked a lot about titles recently. My favorite book title in fantasy is Expiration Date, by Tim Powers. I love the way he takes a common phrase that we encounter all the time and turns it into something dark and frightening. Brilliant. And it’s an amazing book.
Favorite SF Title: Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card. Great book, too — the second volume in Card’s wonderful Ender cycle.
Favorite Fantasy Hero: Paul Schafer from Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry. (Not to be confused with Paul Schafer, David Letterman’s creepy sidekick on CBS Late Night. Him I can’t stand.)
Favorite SF Hero: Yeah, I hate to go back to the well a second time, but there’s no getting around it. My favorite SF hero is Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.
Favorite Fantasy Villain: I feel like I need two sub categories here, one for all-powerful uber villains like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sauron and Guy Kay’s Rakoth Maugrim, and one for normal villains. But the truth is, I really don’t like the uber villains enough to have a favorite. My favorite fantasy villain is probably Mister Wednesday from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Favorite SF Villain: This one is easy, though I have to say that she might not truly qualify as a villain. She’s more aptly called the antagonist: Spanner, from Slow River, by Nicola Griffith.
Favorite Fantasy Jacket Art: This is a tough one, because jacket art is so variable from edition to edition. My favorite fantasy cover is probably from the original Bantam paperback release of Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. The artwork is by Pauline Ellison, and actually the artwork for all three books in the original trilogy (The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore complete the trilogy), which were released as a boxed set, is gorgeous.
Favorite SF Jacket Art: Holy Fire, by Bruce Sterling.
Favorite Fantasy Movie: No great mystery here. I truly love the Peter Jackson adaptation of the Tolkien books, and I think that The Fellowship of the Ring is the best of the three movies.
Favorite SF Movie: Bladerunner, which was directed by Ridley Scott and based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Most Quotable Genre Movie Ever Made in the History of the Galaxy: The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner, based on the novel by William Goldman. Couldn’t have a list that didn’t mention this film. It’s just too good to ignore. Anybody want a peanut?
Favorite Fantasy (and related genre) Television Series: Also an easy one: Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In my opinion, nothing else comes close.
Favorite SF Television Series: Much harder, perhaps because there’s more to choose from. I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation. But I have to say that the new SciFi Channel version of Battlestar Galactica was brilliant. Also, I should maybe have a subcategory for SF miniseries, because the SciFi channel’s Dune miniseries was fantastic — truly did justice to the book. And I have to admit to being a big fan of that campy late 80s-early 90s series Quantum Leap. I think I’ll go with Star Trek: TNG. If all of them were on TV at the same time, TNG is probably the one I would watch.
Favorite Fantasy Book that You’ve Never Heard Of: Illumination, by Terry McGarry. Full disclosure: Terry is a friend of mine and has also copyedited at least half of my books. She is a wonderful writer and Illumination is a magnificent book that should have gotten far more commercial and critical attention than it did.
Other Favorite Fantasy Book That You’ve Never Heard of: Beluthahatchie, by Andy Duncan. Also a friend of mine. This is actually a short story collection. Andy’s work is strange and fun, with a distinctly Southern flavor. He is a masterful storyteller.
Favorite Fantasy Author: Guy Gavriel Kay, with honorable mention to Neil Gaiman.
Favorite Fantasy novel: Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
Favorite SF Author: Frank Herbert, with honorable mention to Orson Scott Card.
Favorite SF Novel: Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Favorite Non-Genre Authors: Here I’ll go with a longer list, because there are too many to pick only one or two. This is in no particular order —
Wallace Stegner, David Liss, Barbara Kingsolver, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John McPhee, that Shakespeare guy A.J. is always talking about, Charles Dickens, Annie Proulx, Michael Herr.
Favorite Book of All Time: Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner.
There you go — enough fodder for discussion, I think. Anyone care to share a few favorites of their own?David B. Coe