Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelling Fantasy Blog Tour: Great Fantasy Writers: Lord Dunsany

November is harvest and gratitude month, so the travelling tour is about the bounty of our favorite fantasy writer, or the best ones, or the best known ones. The one’s we’re grateful for—that make us read fantasy.

I suppose if gratitude is about fairness, I should begin (in all fairness) with the homegrown storytellers. My grandmother, my grandfather Uncle Bertie, my uncle Winston, my aunt, and my mother. When I was growing up in Jamaica --in the city but especially in the country-- there was no electronic entertainment. My There was maybe a TV but it was turned off pretty early. And there was also radio. But for the most part, those dark nights were spent with books, my mother's favorite English authors, or someone telling a riddle or a story. I especially loved riddles because they showed a logic --a game-- that the mind had to struggle to understand.

Books, themselves, were few and far between and my mother, coming from an oral culture, could repeat the beginning of her favorite novels -- her favorite authors being Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.

On my own I discovered Shakespeare. Hamlet is fantasy, right? I also discovered Edgar Allen Poe. And without trying to, I ended up memorizing the opening of the Tell Tale Heart. I especially liked Poe's gothic worlds where the psychological and the fantastical met together in a surreal world of unreliable narrators.

But the story that took my heart away and that opened worlds for me was Lord Dunsany's Ghost. Readings of this story can be found here among other stories in the librivox collection 004

and here read individually at Miette's Bedtime podcast http://www.miettecast.com/2006/03/21/the-ghosts/
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Sure, I loved The Sword of Welleran, and the world Welleran inhabited, a rich world like all of Dunsany's worlds. But the craft, the suddenness, the weird paradox of believer in ghost/non-believer in ghost...the sheer science of the epic fantasy battle. It was as if the narrator of Ghosts was fighting against what he sensed was the unreliability of the world and he was not going to allow himself to fall into it.

OF all Dunsany's works, Ghosts -- for me-- has stood the test of time. OR the test of rationality. OR the test of faith. When I first read Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter.



 I loved it but found some of it too much. The language was too ornate, almost overdone. Now, I can make it through the language of Elfland...and there are moments where Dunsany's tendency to indulge beautiful language bores me or annoys me because it is excessive. I also have found myself balking at his easy disdain of Christianity, something I  tolerated or ignored in the past but which now irks me because I sense an overbearing meanspiritedness in it. The story is beautiful but it's hard to love a story that subtly --or not so subtly-- sneers at one's religion.



But Ghosts will always be a favorite.  Listen to the story here at  Miette's Bedtime podcast http://www.miettecast.com/2006/03/21/the-ghosts/  and see if you don't fall in love with it.

To read other posts on our favorite writers, check out Theresa Carter's blog:

Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com

Others in the traveling fantasy tour are:

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections. His story, "The Boy on McGee Street," is forthcoming in Queer Fish 2  http://warrenrochelle.com

Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.tp://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/  at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  
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