Brandon Sanderson: Legacy

Maybe if Robert Jordan hadn’t died, I might not have discovered Brandon Sanderson.  My taste for pure fantasy has waned as I’ve grown older.  It makes me sad.  I want to love swords and sorcery as much as ever, but my heart just isn’t into it anymore.

Anyway – It was a strain to read book 11 of the Wheel of Time in 2005.  I did only because I was so invested in the characters and Jordan promised the end was near.   I waited for book 12, the last book, with the idea that I would just read it to get it over with.  To be done with Rand and the others, characters that I didn’t even like anymore.  But I craved that sense of completion that the last book would provide.   I waited… 2006, 2007…   I read his blog.  I knew he was sick.  I didn’t think he would die.

Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan (Wikipedia)

But he did.

The Wheel of Time did not.

English: Author Brandon Sanderson at Utopiales...
Brandon Sanderson (Wikipedia)

Brandon Sanderson saved it.  He really saved it.  In the three books that replaced the promised last book, Sanderson gave me back the love I had lost for Jordan’s creation.

With an astounding seamless-ness, Sanderson wove Jordan’s beloved Pattern into a whole cloth.

I just finished that last book, six years later than I expected to, but it was worth the wait.

Thank you Mr. Sanderson, for taking on such a daunting task, and giving me my much needed closure.

You did good.

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One Word Test

Ernest Hemingway: Brief

Cover of "The Old Man and The Sea"To be honest, I’m not sure I much care for Hemingway.  No, not sure at all.  I mean, he’s a writer.  A good writer. One of the best.  You know all that already.  But his stories, well, they’re sad.  Nothing good happens in them, nothing happy.  But you gotta read them, right?  Because he’s a great writer, everyone knows that.

The best thing, about his stories, is that they’re short. To the point. Brief. I like brief.  I like stories that say a lot with a little.

The Old Man and the Sea, that’s the only long one that I read all the way through. I had to, for school.  I didn’t like it.  Not much anyway.  It just went on and on about those damn sharks until I was hoping they’d just bite the old man and get it over with.

The best one, the best short one, was The Killers.  It’s sad, but it tells a whole story with almost no words at all. No extra words.

Can’t help but admire a guy who can say so much with so little.

Maybe if he can do it, I can too.

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One Word Test

Dave Duncan: Love

I learned about Love from Dave Duncan. 

There are a hundred different kinds of love in this world and he covers them all.  The unconditional, instinctual love for a child.  The often conditional, but forgiving love for a spouse.  The patient love for a beloved parent. The comfortable love for a true friend.  And even the respectful love for a close enemy.

His books are not romantic, although they are full of romance.  Magic and dashing heroes, human-like gods and god-like humans, wars and death and redemption.  It’s all in there.  But throughout all of his worlds and characters  there is a common theme.  That love motivates us all.  Even the bad guys love something – money, power, ambition, sometimes themselves.  (When you understand the motivation of the enemy, it makes what they do tangible.  And terribly frightening.)

I found Dave Duncan while I was in college, and his books sustained me through trying times.  I could not find love around me then, not even for myself, but I could lose myself in a story of a stable boy who loved a queen and all would be well.  As I grew older, and as I found more of his books to read, I discovered that, unlike so many fantasy writers, the love he wrote about did not end at the altar and a “they lived happily ever after.” He wrote about grown-up love between long wedded couples, something I’d not witnessed in real life.  He showed me the casual, physical affection that could exist between two people who’d known, and loved, and fought with each other for decades.

I don’t understand why more people don’t know about Dave Duncan.  There is no other author in my collection of books that I re-read as often. There is no other author, (except perhaps Larry McMurty, and then only in Lonesome Dove) that pours as much love into their characters.

I re-read Dave Duncan’s books to meet up with old friends.  And although I know how their stories end, I never tire of hearing them.

(see also: One Word Test)

Robert Heinlein: Sex

A friend read my post, One Word Test, and after reading the list of ten of my favorite authors, she asked, “Do you actually like Heinlein?”

And the truth is, no, not any more.  As an adult trying to re-read his books I loved as a teen, I now find them creepy and pedantic, and strangely, a little naïve.

BUT, I will never regret or be embarrassed by my teen-aged love for his writing.   I firmly believe that if I hadn’t been reading Heinlein at the very moment I was going through puberty, I would have come out the other side as a prude.

Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it’s more sanitary.

When I think of Heinlein, I think of Sex. And yes, I say Sex, not ‘making love’ or any of those silly euphemisms we tack on to the act to make it sound ‘pretty.’  Sex is messy and fun and silly and ridiculous and oh so wonderful and that is what I got from Heinlein.

Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.

Heinlein taught me that although sex is better when combined with love, love isn’t a necessary ingredient.  But on the flip side, a partnership without sex is just a business arrangement.  Sex, above all, is fun.  It is the most fun two people can have together without spending money.

Sex, whatever else it is, is an athletic skill. The more you practice, the more you can, the more you want to, the more you enjoy it, the less it tires you.

He taught me to not be ashamed by my enjoyment of sex.  He also taught me that your partner’s enjoyment of the act is essential to your own enjoyment.

From Heinlein I learned not to judge other people’s ideas about sex.  I learned that men can find other men sexually attractive exactly the way I find them attractive.  I learned that it is ok if I find another woman sexually attractive, because women are beautiful.  I also learned from him that it is ok to say No, but that it is not ok to tease.

I learned that sex is not something to fear.  A couple must take sex seriously and recognize it as an essential part of a relationship. A couple must discuss sex openly with each other,  not ignore or hide it under the sheets in the dark. (I’m using the word couple – but of course Heinlein also taught me that two is not the only potential combination.)

And like everything in life, sex requires moderation to be appreciated at its fullest.

Heinlein was the best sex-ed a naïve, catholic-school girl could ask for.  My life has been the better for it. So for all that, and more, he will always be on my top ten list of favorite authors.

Cover of To Sail Beyond the Sunset
Cover of To Sail Beyond the Sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All quotes by Robert Heinlein.

One Word Test

Fans of Doctor Who should recognize this quote from the latest episode, The Snowmen:

Promotional poster for The Snowmen. Source: Wikipedia. Copyright: BBC.

“Truth is singular; lies are words, words, words.”

For the rest of you, it is the rational given for the “one word test,” where a character must answer every question put to her with only one word.

For example,

Question: Why is Steven Moffat the best writer in TV history?

Answer: Clever

I’m going to adapt this test to help me with a top ten list: Who are my ten most favorite authors and why do I love them?

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...
Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realize that some of my one word answers would need clarification.  In the Doctor Who episode, the test works because it is all within the context of the show. The audience and the test giver all understand the full meaning behind each single word answer.

I highly recommend you try this.  It took me less time than I expected, not even five minutes, but it clarified for me why I love these writer’s words.  Pick something and tell us why you love it. In one word.