This topic is fairly basic: list the authors you think are the most over-read and under-read OF THE FANTASY AND HORROR GENRES, giving at least one reason why you think they are over-appreciated/under-appreciated. If you would like to provide a link for the under-read authors, that would be nice; but it's optional.
If you feel that an author you enjoy is getting undue criticism, FEEL FREE TO DEFEND!
I'll start off by giving you my choices.
1.) JRR TOLKEIN
To me, Tolkein gets undue credit for pioneering the fantasy genre. I have always and will always attribute that accomplishment to one man, and that's Lord Dunsany. Personally, I don't find Tolkein prose style to be exciting, and I feel the Lord of the Rings to be very uninteresting. The plot is predictable and the characters are just stock. I didn't like the movies that much either.
2.) H.P. LOVECRAFT
There seems to be some kind of Lovecraft mania going on right now. I actually love some of Lovecraft's work, but I definitely think he is getting hyped up too much in the book world. That's not to say he isn't great in many ways, but I just feel he is getting undue attention while other authors aren't getting any or much attention.
3.) TERRY GOODKIND
How many books is this guy going to write before people realize that he is just riding the formula wave and cashing in on a franchise that has become repetitive and tiresome? Has he finally finished with the Sword of Truth series? I hear he is now writing prequels to the first book. Crazy.
1.) LORD DUNSANY
I will have to mention Lord Dunsany, because he is one of my all time favourite authors. His work is so original and unique that he set the prototype for nearly everyone. Not to mention the fact that he is a master stylist, with wonderfully evocative prose. Only a genuis like Dunsany could have written something so odd as The Gods of Pegana. It seems like there has been a little bit of a boost in his popularity lately, and that is great. More people should read him.
2.) WESLEY WESTERBY
I have always enjoyed Wesley Westerby, even though his first book The Rainy Day Companion has been out-of-print for some time. I just saw that you can buy his story "The Endearing Nightmare" on Kindle, but I would love for him to put up the original collection, not just one story. I hope he will re-issue The Rainy Day Companion because it is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. My all-time favourite story of his has to be "Ruminations in a Cemetery."
Wesley Westerby link:
3.) ARTHUR MACHEN
The Hill of Dreams is one of the best stories I've ever read. Machen had such a unique view of life and the hidden mysteries around us. To me, most of his stories, even the more horror-oriented ones have such a sense of magic and mysticism. I definitely feel more people should check out his stuff.
Arthur Machen link:
LiamThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Liam Sterling,
|Knows what a real civil war should be|
Interesting list, and I agree with you on Tolkien and Lovecraft.
I don't agree, but it's an interesting list nevertheless, particularly of under-read authors.
"Why are there ghosts in the kitchen punching each other in the balls?" - Aidan, "Being Human"
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
- G.K. Chesterton
My moderator voice is red.
|*Special Achievement Award Winner 2010* shines on like the stars|
A few years ago I couldn't find anyone that knew who he was. At least now people know who I'm talking about.
Life is too short to read a bad book.
I am feeling some regret for having Tolkein on the list. But I won't change it. I just want people to know that I am going to re-read Lord of the Rings, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I'm probably wrong about Tolkein.
H.P. Lovecraft is great, and I think I'm going to regret that one as well.
Maybe I was in a foul mood when I posted this?
I still think Dunsany, Westerby, and Machen are overlooked masters. I have been running into Dunsany books in used shops, but I almost never see Machen. Westerby is someone you probably won't find in a shop. I heard from my friend that he was put into an insane asylum a few years ago for trying to strangle his girlfriend in a movie theatre, but I don't know if that's true. I bought his book The Rainy Day Companion when it came out in the mid-nineties, but it was stolen from me a few months ago when I was mugged in a park. (If someone has a copy they would like to sell, please let me know! I will pay 500+ dollars.)This message has been edited. Last edited by: Liam Sterling,
|knows there is no spoon|
I would quibble with Tolkien's spot on the list, partially because while his prose is not especially exciting and only a couple of characters get true development during the course of the story (mostly the Hobbits) his treatment of the themes involved in the story and the toll that it takes on characters is much more nuanced and mature than most of those who have tried to copy him.
Speaking as a 32 year old guy who first read the books at age 7-8, they continue to remain a revelation every time I read them, I almost always find new things to consider. I also like a lot of the sense of proportion Tolkien has. He doesn't tend to glorify crusades that intend to wipe out evil forever and all time and turn the world into a magical fairy land of happiness, there is a full acknowledgement that even if the party succeeds in their quest, the great thing it will accomplish is to give future generations a chance to make their own way in the world.
Also, for all that most readers seem to assume that Tolkien holds up the hobbit style of life as an ideal, he certainly takes some time to critique some of their cultural tendencies, especially the very insular world view. Hobbits repeatedly say they have no need to know anything about the world around them, and as long as they don't bother anyone, no will bother them. Furthermore, they don't even have to learn anything about the world around them. Eventually of course, they're proven wrong, and their own ignorance bites them in the ass.
Or, as an elf puts it in the early chapters:
That's a lot more care than far too many authors put into main characters/good guys, who are always right and whose way of life and worldview are assumed by the author/audience to be the correct one.
Wandering, but not lost.
"You are a Knight Errant. All of the fun of rescuing damsels, and none of the paperwork." - Royko
Lovecraft's vast gravitic influence on fantasy is undeniable. I've read a lot of writing about Lovecraft, from Colin Wilson, Thomas Ligotti, Gaiman, etc. And there's the endless pastiches and homages. But read Lovecraft directly? The prose is impenetrable, sometimes risible.
John Crowley's Little, Big is a towering masterpiece, praised to the skies by critics, but to me still not as famous as it deserves.
The thing about Lovecraft is that, when he was writing, what he was writing about was novel and exciting. It wasn't the boring horror cliché that poor imitations have made it. While the prose is pompous and awkward, it gets across what he was trying to write about. Obvious racism aside, I think that the prose was for an effect and it achieved it very well.
|Tori lookalike contest winner, 2001|
I read this ages and ages ago. Might be time for a re-read.
The World's End.. as Sims!
Not sure I'd agree Lovecraft was novel and exciting, even at the time, he was part of the horror tradition: Clark Ashton Smith, the earlier Poe, Stoker, etc. Lovecraft's original thing was cosmic horror, the veil pulled back to reveal the pointlessness of humanity, Cthullu doesn't even care. That central concept is why he's so influential, not the monsters or the purple prose.
I have an abiding affection for Crowley's Little, Big, and the Edgewood house, bigger on the inside, many houses in one. Then there's the Unseelie counterpart, another under-read author, Mervyn Peake, and probably the most influential edifice in fantasy, the phantasmagorical Gormenghast.
I came across Peake indirectly, stumbled across China Mieville years ago, and the review blurbs kept comparing him to this Mervyn Peake fellow. Found the Gormenghast trilogy later, and I agree with Michael Moorcock, this stands at the headwaters of fantasy next to Tolkien.
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