Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reading Journal - Songs of Love and Death, Martin and Dozois

Songs of Love and Death: All Original Tales of Star Crossed Love
I started reading Songs of Love and Death: All Original Tales of Star Crossed Love the other night. For those who do not know, it is a short story anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I suspect the theme is obvious?

I'm not very far into it, to be honest, but I wanted to use this as an opportunity to mention the other anthology released last year by Martin and Dozois, Warriors.

I've never been much into short stories - reading them or writing them. When I have written shorts, they've been scenes only, with the purpose of delivering an emotional response.

But, as a writer, I'm all too familiar with the value of the short story as a way to break into the 'scene', as it were. That's the advice everyone gives.

WarriorsMoreso, I spent much of last year and the year before reading book review blogs, and I heard of all these wonderful authors that I was unfamiliar with. The problem being, in my mind, is that I'm terribly picky about who I read - and - they can't ALL be that good, can they?

Or maybe they can. I don't know.

Anyway, I figured getting Warriors was safe, because at least Martin had a short story based on the characters in The Hedge Knight in there, and I'd never read any of those. (What kind of ASoIaF fan am I?! Hedge Knight is the quintessential prequel to A Game of Thrones, dontcha know?)

Warriors didn't disappoint. I learned something important about anthologies. They don't all have to be super awesome. The whole "something for everyone". What was more important, however, was that I got to read stories from some authors whose career I've been following one way or the other.

And their writing may have either not been what I was expecting or was even better than I thought it would be. And that's good.

Songs then becomes this natural choice. Thematically, to go from unusual or interesting warriors to lovers, from conflict to romance (in theory), shows the author's abilities in that regard.

Plus, I have this idea for Zherlios, a character arc which is an ode to Shakespeare - and I am paranoid that it's already been written. (Haha?)(I'm kidding, of course it's been written, by Shakespeare. I'm taking a theme and making it my own. It's an homage to ole Will.)

Seriously though, if it's already been done quite this way, I'd rather find out now.

Four stories, so far.

Love Hurts, Jim Butcher. I like Jim Butcher, having devoured his Codex Alera over the past couple of years. I've got notes that I copied from his LiveJournal on writing advice taped to my desk. I've never yet read any of his Dresden Files material, so this was a fun introduction to the character and the world in which he lives.

The Marrying Maid, Jo Beverley. Was unfamiliar with the author until I read this. She did an excellent job of blending mythological elements into her Victorian era tale. While not generally the genre I read in, the story was well paced and enjoyable.

Rooftops, Carrie Vaughn. After reading her story here and also in Warriors, Carrie Vaughn makes it to my "must read" list (once I wander back to urban fantasy). Her style, characterization, prose is - for lack of a better phrase - compelling. Her story in Warriors still comes to my mind on occasion, and I read that months ago.

Hurt Me, M.L.N. Hanover (pseudonym for Daniel Abraham). Here's an author that I've been waiting to read - he's been very productive in recent years and frankly, anyone that GRRM works with can't stink, right? I tease. Objectively speaking, this story could only have one possible outcome. But, once you're reading it, that answer is not there. It's this incredible twist of fate, a balance that's all too perfect and bizarre. Hanover brushes the very edge of sadomasochism (as if the title didn't warn of that) with superb skill, such that the most conservative reader is likely to be only mildly shaken. In short (ha?), I was impressed.

Aside, the Speculative Scotsman did a more in-depth analysis of the story.
Thirteen more stories left... looking very forward to the tales from Neil Gaiman and Jacqueline Carey, as well as the authors I do not know overly well.

The Lies of Locke LamoraBut! These days, I have to keep fantasy on the stack, so while I'm slowly indulging Songs, tonight I'm going to start reading a book by an author I have not yet read. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Excellent reviews on Librarything, but that's not why I picked it.

Dark Fantasy, boys and girls. After reading Joe Abercrombie, I want to diversify my experience while I try to understand what people think "dark" fantasy really is.

What are you reading these days?

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