Friday, 1 May 2020

The WTR list

Welcome all to my additions to Wyrd & Wonder! In my first year, my plan is to stick pretty close to the prompts, partly to get a good taste for it and partly because I find the prompts good for my creativity. And I'm going to have to do a twist right away, because today's prompt is your month's TBR list. Now, I don't always make a TBR list, but when I do, it only tells you what I most assuredly won't finish - whatever's on the list. For whatever reason, I always get sidetracked onto something else.

Ergo, it's not a good idea for me to do them. At best, I'm only lying to you and to me. At worst, such lists are in fact an unwitting curse upon myself.

Therefore I've decided to do a What Do I Want To Read list. Not titles, but what sort of things are really appealing to me, both so I don't go around trying out things that really of course I'm not going to like, and in the hope it garners some recommendations.

Tone - Sometimes, it's not what you're reading about, but how it's being told. More than anything right now, I'm jonesing for a view point and prose style that's done in a pretty specific way. I want something with wry humour, keen observation, at least a hint of compassion and a touch of cynicism (without constantly doing either). To me that can cover anything from Sam Vimes to Baru Comorant, from Locke Lamora to Mara of the Acoma; it's a specific list but one that can be done a lot of ways. Not that I don't enjoy the naive, the straight-up and the gritty, but I've had a surfeit of both and need a different flavour. And seem to have run out of books containing it.

Aesthetics - I don't think there's anything in the fantasy genre I wouldn't read right now aesthetics wise - I'm not burned out on trad fantasy pastiches, or against Urban Fantasy or whatever - but there's definitely some things that'd make me go "ooh". In fact, one of them is the trad fantasy pastiche, executed with style, charm and conviction; it's something that brought me into the genre and I'll always enjoy. But I've definitely very much enjoyed books that flirt with modernism while still feeling fantasy such as Gladstone's Craft Sequence and De Bodard's Dominions of the Fallen, and would love to read something in Asia that's not China/Japan. Not that I'm against them, but there is rather a lot of Asia outside those fine places after all.

Story - Much as I love Epic Fantasy and the way it does everything, I think I'm in the mood for something a little simpler, a little more focused. I love detective fiction and I'm all about fantasy's embrace of that, although I've noticed most of them seem to focus a bit much on the gritty-cynical Chandler model for my mood at the moment. Somebody's going to be a big hit with a more light hearted version of this, I feel sure of it. I'm definitely in the mood for a big action-adventure just like Gemmell did, or such Wuxia as I've seen, but I've noticed most of them seem to follow globe-trotting quests and right now, I'm most in love with books that stay in one setting and explore them thoroughly.

Character - This is a tough one because with characters, the thing I love most is to be surprised. I love my stereotypes but I love surprises even more. Instead, let me talk about dynamics. I'm a big fan of families, of firm friends, of one for all and all for one. But ambiguous relationships, or friendships and enmities with a curveball, can make a book. Weatherwax's friendship with Brutha. Girton Club Foot's journey. The very strange relationship between Asmodeus and Madeleine. Or how about the tragic love between Dianora and Brandin? That seems like a very loose thing to say but ultimately I prefer positive relationships over characters sniping and moping for half the book, no matter how well it ends. Just... every dish needs a little acid, salt and spice, right?

Or to put it another way...

... if its reminiscent of post-Reaper Man Pratchett, GGK, Le Guin, RJ Barker, Gladstone or De Bodard... I want to know.

That's where my head is right now in terms of seeking out things to read. I look up at it and feels way too broad and unspecific, yet I look at my kindle and it feels like nothing truly fits. Incredible right? There's got to be something in there I'm ignoring. Or maybe I'll find it reading my fellow W&Wers' posts. In fact, that's my first goal during this month. Find a new book I really love.

And the second is to blog like a maniac until I break someone's sanity. Preferably Bryan Wigmore's, but I'm not picky, because I am the worst.

So happy May and may it be full of wonder, fantasy, and insanity.


  1. For Asia outside of China/Japan: I am currently rereading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, which is terrific. There is also his children's book Haroun & the Sea of Stories; technically this is set in a fictional country but it is pretty close to what you're looking for. City of Bones by Martha Wells might fit (again not a real setting, but one inspired by the Middle East rather than China/Japan). And there is The Bird King by G WillIow Wilson -- I haven't read that one yet but it appears to be set in Muslim Spain.

    1. Thanks for the recs Beth - gonna look them all up :)