Lost Causes Anyone?
October 29, 2012
We all have them—the TV show we can’t believe nobody is watching, the sports team that’s clearly poised to sweep the playoffs, the singer who’s absolutely ready to make it big. And, of course, the author that nobody else seems to be reading, but we’re just dying to talk about.
And by we, obviously, I mean me.
If you like the sweeping history and complex characters of George R. R. Martin, why are you not reading Guy Gavriel Kay? His countries of the imagination—Arbonne, Tigana, Sarantium—are recognizable from history and yet filled with magic and mystery. He’s elegant in description, epic in scope, and human enough to make you weep over people who never existed. Get Under Heaven for a China that is instantly familiar and yet never was.
Like a good historical mystery? If you’ve missed Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye or The Black Tower, you’ve missed two of the very best. If you see what’s coming in the last couple of pages, come tell me. Because I surely didn’t, and in each case, I went right back to the beginning and read through again, trying to see where he slipped in the clues. I didn’t mind a bit when I saw, that time, what I missed the last time. Mysteries worth rereading? Oh, yes.
And because I brought up historical mystery, let me introduce my latest find—Owen Parry. The Abel Jones books fall into that genre—but that’s not why I read them. I’m just desperately in love with Abel Jones, a Welshman who survived the British campaigns in India only to immigrate to America just in time for the start of the Civil War. There are murders and so forth, but I couldn’t care less as long as Mr. Jones keeps talking. Owen Parry has created a character with a voice as distinctive and as wonderful as P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster or Rex Stout's Archie Goodwin. (Look them up too, while you’re at it. Fantastic reads with characters you’ll count as friends long before the book is done.) Faded Coat of Blue is the first book.
I have a further rant about science fiction and fantasy authors that don’t get enough play (Keith Laumer, anyone? how about Barry Longyear? Harry Harrison? Anyone?), but I’ll save that for a later blog. For now, go out and find those authors. And let me know what I’m missing, too. I’m always interested in something new.
North Oak Branch