Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Genre meme - belated and shaming

Via lovely EineKleineRob whom I have been shamefully neglecting on my blog visits. In defence he's on a long list of 'I feel guilty' blogs I keep meaning to read each day. So he is in extensive company.

Anyway: this is a list of genre fiction that has been doing the rounds and I thought I would respond to it (as you all know I like a list)

* - read it
Bold - would re-read.
Italics - started / read once
Plain - didn't bother / haven't yet got a round tuit

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien - seriously, I've never even bothered. LOVED seeing the films in a single day on a big screen though.
2. *The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien - I was 10.
3. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien - thought about it. Changed my mind.
4. *Foundation series, Isaac Asimov
5. *Robot series, Isaac Asimov - hey, I can read classic SF
6. Dune, Frank Herbert - life is short
7. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein - I know, I really should have
8. *The Earthsea series, Ursula le Guin - vividly remembered from childhood, I now have a copy in a single volume that I keep meaning to re-read
9. *Neuromancer, William Gibson - didn't really get on with it
10. *Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury - will re-read
11. *The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham - oh yes! Why no Midwich Cuckoos?
12. A Book of the New Sun series, Gene Wolfe
13. Discworld series, Terry Pratchett - (whistles casually, hoping no-one will notice)
14. *Sandman series, Neil Gaiman - am due my annual/bi-annual rereading. LOVE 'EM.
15. *The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams - brilliant, but the radio was what bought it to life
16. *Dragonriders of Pern series, Anne McCaffrey - should go back to this as I'm pretty certain I enjoyed what I read.
17. *Interview with the Vampire series, Anne Rice - tried, just couldn't be arsed.
18. The Shining, Stephen King - nope, but freaked by flims and TV, I have generally avoided most SK writing.
19. *The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin - A while back. Must re-read.
20. The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny - for shame...
21. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke - loathed the film with passion. Wouldn't feel able to read the book with interest.
22. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
23. Ringworld, Larry Niven.
24. Elric of Melnibone series, Michael Moorcock
25. The Dying Earth series, Jack Vance
26. Lyonesse series, Jack Vance
27. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson.
28. A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
29. The Worm Ourobouros, E.R. Eddison
30. Conan series, Robert E. Howard
31. Lankhmar series, Fritz Leiber
32. *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick. - preferred the film, but could see the point of the (very different) novel that inspired it.
33. *The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
34. *The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells
35. *The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
- I had a period of borrowing classic SF from the library way back and read several times over.
36. Eon, Greg Bear
37. Book of the First Law series, Joe Abercrombie - on my 'to read' list
38. *Miss Marple stories, Agatha Christie - lost track of how many I read...
39. *Hercule Poirot stories, Agatha Christie - ditto...
40. *Lord Peter Wimsey stories, Dorothy L. Sayers - much preferred to AC
41. *The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett - brilliant
42. *The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan - delightful
43. *Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Often re-read these (just missing one volume from the same edition of the books by Penguin)
44. Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft. - sorry...
45. Inspector Wexford stories, Ruth Rendell - tv only I'm afraid
46. *Adam Dalgliesh stories, P.D. James - read several
47. *Philip Marlowe stories, Raymond Chandler - classics of the genre
48. The Godfather, Mario Puzo - friend Helen swears by the book, but I really only know the film version
49. The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth - adore the film, never bothered with the book
50. The Fourth Protocol, Frederick Forsyth
51. Smiley series, John le Carre
52. Gentleman Bastard series, Scott Lynch
53. The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
54. *Watchmen series, Alan Moore - read the initial release
55. *Maus, Art Spiegelman - one of the best ever graphic novels
56. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Miller
57. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi - its on the shelf of 'stuff to read'
58. *Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.
59. Chrestomanci series, Diana Wynne-Jones
60. Ryhope Wood series, Robert Holdstock
61. Wilt series, Tom Sharpe.
62. Riftwar Cycle, Raymond E. Feist
63. Temeraire series, Naomi Novik .
64. *Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis. - charming writing (though it loses something in the perspective of atheistic adulthood)
65. *His Dark Materials series, Phillip Pullman - wonderful and intelligent writing, and also *SOB!* mucho tears
66. Dragonlance series, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
67. Twilight saga, Stephanie Meyer - wouldn't spit on them to put out a fire.
68. The Night's Dawn trilogy, Peter F. Hamilton
69. *Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. - Neil has read some of these to me, which has been lovely, but I have read all for myself. Very good fun and Holly rocks!
70. Honor Harrington series, David Weber
71. Hannibal Lecter series, Thomas Harris
72. The Dark Tower series, Stephen King
73. It, Stephen King
74. The Rats series, James Herbert
75. Dirk Gently series, Douglas Adams
76. Jeeves and Wooster stories, P.G. Wodehouse - please do not hate me
77. *The da Vinci Code, Dan Brown - hokum with knobs on. Dreadful prose. Still a page-turner though!
78. The Culture Series, Iain M. Banks
79. The Duncton series, William Horwood
80. The Illuminatus! trilogy, Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
81. The Aberystwyth series, Malcom Pryce. - on the long list of things to read
82. Morse stories, Colin Dexter
83. Navajo Tribal Police stories, Tony Hillerman
84. *The Ipcress File, Len Deighton - many years ago
85. Enigma, Robert Harris
86. Fatherland, Robert Harris
87. The Constant Gardener, John le Carre
88. *The House of Cards trilogy, Michael Dobbs - read in the wake of the TV series, but highly enjoyable froth
89. *The Dark is Rising saga, Susan Cooper - hell yes! Grew up on these
90. Psychotechnic League and Polesotechnic League series, Poul Anderson
91. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
92. Star Wars: Thrawn trilogy, Timothy Zahn
93. Ender's Game series, Orson Scott Card
94. *Gormenghast series, Meryvn Peake - read the whole lot, but got very bored on the finale
95. Miles Vorkosigan saga, Lois McMaster Bujold
96. *The Once and Future King, T.H. White -definitely a favourite for Arthurian fans
97. Fighting Fantasy books, Ian Livingston & Steve Jackson .
98. The Stainless Steel Rat series, Harry Harrison .
99. The Lensman series, E.E. 'Doc' Smith
100. *The Cadfael stories, Ellis Peters - read several a good number of years ago (inspired by Jacobi)

It strikes me there are a lot of recommended series here, perhaps saying a lot about the nature of genre fiction: revisiting narratives with a twist, creating large worlds with many different aspects generating volumes within the series, even repetition dare I say... Moreover, in many instances these series are made up of a substantial number of volumes or are even ongoing series with no particular 'end in sight'. Keeping up with this list would be hard going for anyone, even before the realisation that 'genre' as a defining term for fiction is incredibly broad. Horror, SF, crime, fantasy... definitions are fraught and several genres seem a little absent here.

Mostly, I'm a bit disappointed that Jasper Fforde doesn't get a look in, and that there are no Laurence Block novels, or Chris Brookmyres. Gaiman is only represented by the Sandman novels, and that overall it's lighter on graphic novels than I might expect a modern list to be. For example, The Preacher series of graphic novels would work very well the straddle the gap in representing Westerns on the list.

Nevertheless, it remains an interesting list with lots to provoke my reading tastes and remind me of things I have been intending to read for some time (I've hovered on picking up the Temeraire series, and the Abercrombie books on several occasions). More to add to the reading pile!


Jane Henry said...

And it's a genre list that doesn't include my genre!!

Have read loads of Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, some PD James in the crime series.
Lots of the SF I haven't read, but have done the obvious ones. Never ever got on with Asimov, and hated both film and book of 2001.

Fantasy - Dragons of Pern are good. Am surprised Eddings isn't on the list.
Love Ursula le Guin too. You should read Chrestomanci, Diana WJ is fab...
Read Harry P of course, and Narnia and Philip Pullman (but lucky enough to have worked for his editor, so that's probably cheating!)

Like a lot of the thriller stuff - Michael Crichton is good, Dan Brown is tosh but readable.

And STEPHEN KING is a genius. But puzzled as to why no Carrie.
Can't stop have to do brownies run now, but may check out this meme on my blog!
And really you haven't read Terry Pratchett????? You're kidding me, right?
PS seems a bit muddled about genres. I'd suggest a fantasy/sf one and a crime one, and a thriller one and a horror and an ahem romance....

JoeinVegas said...

Took you a while to compile the list. Hope it is being spent wisely (or not, which would probably be more fun)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Hi JH - yes, I know. The list does seem lacking on a specific genre (romance). Ahem. Not as I wish to imply it is too bloke-ish.

Also... ah, you spotted my shameful declaration. I really have no idea why I haven't read Pratchett since I adore him as a person and whenever I read about him and the discworld stuff I always feel silly and excited. (I liked the animated stuff that was done of some of his stuff - Wyrd Sisters).

Joe: I have clarified about where the list came from. No way I could compile something that long!

Jane Henry said...

Oh if you like Wyrd Sisters, then you'll love Witches Abroad and all the stuff with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. (I want to be Granny Weatherwax when I grow up). Also you absolutely MUST read Reaper Man which is the first one I ever read and laugh out loud funny. We were on holiday with friends and you could always tell when someone was reading it because of the chuckles emanating from the side of the pool. TP is wise, funny, clever, satirical, and above all the most humane genius writing today. Love him. Oh and if you tackle his children's stuff look at the Tiffany Aching series. I just love her as a character. She is who I would have wanted to be at 13!

Rob said...

Lisa - I feel exactly the same about blogging at present: a kin of gnawing guilt that I'm not writing enough, but even worse that I'm not reading enough of all those marvelous blogs I have found and blogrolled. I'm reading Zoe McCarthy's "My Boyfriend Is a Twat" book at present, and feeling incredibly guilty that I haven't read her blog for about a year.

A few surprises in your list. No Jeeves and Wooster at all? No LOTR? (The books really are better than the films in my view, and having seen the films first you'll now be able to imagine the excellent physical realisations from the films. What so put you off about Kubrick's 2001?

And I really do recommend all my extra ten.

Anyway, don't beat yourself up about shameful neglect, because I am currently its patron saint.