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Who is the best living Fantasy writer?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Steerpike, May 6, 2012.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Just curious what you all think.

    I'm leaning toward Guy Gavriel Kay. Reading Under Heaven right now, which is excellent (like all of his work). Just saw that it won the Sunburst Award.

    I'd be willing to consider arguments for Gene Wolfe.
     
  2. Kelise

    Kelise Maester

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    Brandon Sanderson would have my vote, though I haven't read Guy Gavriel or Gene Wolf - both in my 'to read' pile.

    Scott Lynch is my personal favourite living Fantasy writer, but I wouldn't say he's the best out there. Brandon Sanderson has done so much for the genre and works hard to help others and generally be awesome, as well as writing stunning books.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I like Lynch and Sanderson as well (only read Elantris by Sanderson).

    I find there are a lot of very good writers that I enjoy in the genre. Whether in fantasy or outside of it, however, there are a handful of writers whose books I will read and find myself just stopping in places, apart from anything having to do with the plot, characters, story, or what have you, and simply reflect on the writing itself and think "wow."

    Kay is one of those authors for me. Maybe the only living writer in fantasy where I've consistently thought that, though I've had a few such occasions reading something by Gene Wolfe.
     
  4. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

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    I can say I haven't heard of either of Steerpike's choices [although I'll look into them], but my heart belongs to Neil Gaiman.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I like Gaiman a lot, Aravelle. Interestingly, I posted an interview of his in another thread, and when he was asked what the last truly great book he read was, he said:

    "“The Sorcerer’s House,” by Gene Wolfe, amazed me. "

    So there's Wolfe raising his lupine head.

    I still lean more toward Kay, but Wolfe is great.

    FYI - Kay helped Tolkien's son with The Silmarillion, back in the 1970s. His early series, the Fionavar Tapestry, is somewhat Tolkienesque, though different enough in its own right (and a great series). Many people really like his stand-alone fantasy novel, Tigana. I thought The Last Light of the Sun was excellent, but I've never read anything by him that wasn't very well done indeed.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  6. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Best? That's a tough one, since it relies so heavily on your criteria for what constitutes "good." It's even tougher for me, since I haven't kept up on many contemporary authors, so there are major gaps in my knowledge which might change my answers.

    Gene Wolfe is certainly right up there. Looking at it in the terms a lit teacher would, I'd have to say he's the "best" of the ones I'm familiar with. I could argue for Samuel R. Delany as well–for all the same reasons one would use for Wolfe–but his fantasy output has been comparatively small and he hasn't written any in decades, so I'm not sure he qualifies: perhaps the best living ex-fantasy writer. ;)

    On the other hand, Steven Brust is right up there, too: if his prose provides fewer "wow" moments than Wolfe or Delany, they're still in there. (The majority of his work most closely resembles that of his original model, Roger Zelazny… who hasn't received mention thus far because he lacks one of the primary qualifications for this category.) His plotting is as intricate as it comes–the majority of the Vlad Taltos novels read like detective fiction. And in spite of both of these, the pacing is such that I can only dream of being able to emulate it some day. Plus he's flat-out fun to read: very few people can sustain a serious tone to a story while including humor on, at the widest separation, every other page. (By "very few," I mean I'm not aware of anyone else who can do this.) So I'd have to nominate him as a "personal favorite which I can back up with evidence of literary quality." Whether or not this is equivalent to "best"… I'll leave for others to decide.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Brust is certainly a favorite of mine. Hard to beat him for sheer entertainment and flat out fun (and, as you say, he's an excellent writer).
     
  8. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

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    I saw that post, and it made me very happy.
    I saw Gene's name in there; therefore, he is now a priority on my list.
    I'm curious of Kay.. after all, it is The Silmarillion..
     
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I'd have to go for Steven Brust as well.

    Entertaining, and books I don't mind going back to re-read on occasion.
     
  10. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    Clive Barker, Stephen Donaldson, Julian May
     
  11. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    Gaiman is really good as well
     
  12. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    I can't say who's the best since I'm still slogging my way through the greats of the genre, but my favourite is Joe Abercrombie without a doubt, with Scott Lynch closely behind and Brandon Sanderson gaining on the both of them (Elantris was pretty good, Warbreaker is better so far).
     
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