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"human is namuh spelled backwards"

Happy early birthday to astromachy, and best wishes for a wonderful year to come!

* There's a new Sword of Gryffindor: Hog's Head Pubcast online here. And speaking of podcasts, I've updated my list of favorite links here, including links to author/artist websites and podcasts.

* Fantasy & Science Fiction has posted free online copies of all of its stories that made the Nebula Awards Preliminary Ballot. Read them here.

* The Times has ranked its picks for "The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945" here. What do you think?

I decided I would make a list of My Top Ten Favorite British Writers since 1945.

Of those I chose, four were on the list by The Times:
J.R.R. Tolkien
George Orwell
J.K. Rowling
J.G. Ballard

Six, however, were not:
Mary Renault
Daphne du Maurier
Neil Gaiman
John Wyndham
Olaf Stapledon
Douglas Adams

"Dog is God spelled backwards. That means something. I'm just not sure what exactly. But human is namuh spelled backwards." - Marc-Christophe


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see Daphne du Maurier on your list. I only read her short story "The Birds" (on which the movie is based) and liked it a lot. I may have to read more by her... :)
Jan. 16th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
I just love her novels. If you liked "The Birds," I recommend Rebecca; Hitchcock adapted it as a film, too.
Jan. 16th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
Where the %#%$ is P.G. Wodehouse? While almost all of his stories are set in the Twenties, he produced a fair amount of material after 1945 and is arguably the greatest comic writer of the 20th century. For that matter, where's Terry Pratchett? I'll admit I've found his more recent works to be a trial to read (the last one I truly enjoyed was Maskerade). But when he's not feeling preachy, he absolutely hilarious. Both these men have also produced some truly brilliant dialogue.
Jan. 16th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Excellent points!

Also absent: W.H. Auden and Alan Moore.
Jan. 17th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
I've liked a lot of his more recent books: The Truth, Thief of Time, and Night Watch were all wonderfully entertaining, and Going Postal was nearly as good, though its central female character was a bit too much like some of Pratchett's other central female characters. But I have to agree that Pratchett's recent fiction has included a couple of disappointments. On the other hand, I wouldn't attribute that to the presence of serious ideas; when Pratchett is on form his serious ideas make the humor funnier and sharper.
Jan. 18th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'll admit that I never really got into Pratchett, though I did like his partnership with Gaiman for Good Omens. I do appreciate that he's a big force in the genre, though.
Jan. 16th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
Interesting selection from the Times. Some writers have bored me silly, others I've enjoyed while still others I've never read. I was pleased to see a number of writers who write mainly for children and pretty damn amazed to Rosemary Sutcliff's name. I used to adore her when I was a teenager,but can't really remember much about her books at all. Also there's a few fantasy writers, but no SF writers in there and I note Ian Banks is down in his non genre name. I think his writing as Ian M Banks is far more interesting.

I've read everyone, but Olaf Stapeldon on your list. I used to adore Mary Renault, but I've not read anything of hers for years. I always think of JRR Tolkien that he had a fantastic imagination but could have done with a very firm editor! (probably not wise thing to say around you.) ;-P
Jan. 18th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
I was pleased to see a number of writers who write mainly for children

True! That is impressive. I highly recommend Stapledon, by the way. I'm so glad you love Renault, too! In fact, I may have to do some rereading now, just because this has put her on my mind. Did you have a favorite of hers? The Persian Boy and The Last of the Wine were two of mine. (She was a student of Tolkien's, you know!)

LOL! Yes, we would disagree about Tolkien needing an editor - he edited himself so viciously, after all, that it took 17 years to get Lord of the Rings, and we didn't get The Silmarillion until after his death, and he'd been working on that since World War I! - but I would say that it applies to Rowling. IMHO, she's a genius storyteller, but she definitely could use an editorial hand now and then. :P

I do wish there had been more of a genre presence in the list.
Jan. 18th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
I always wish there was more of a genre presence in these kind of listings!

As to Mary Renault, I'm going to be terribly boring and say that the Persian Boy was my favourite. I remember certain parts of it to this day and the beginning sticks in my mind for its almost casual cruelty! I was fascinated by Greek culture when I was younger which made Mary Renault's book something of a must. *g*

As to Tolkien, 17 years... and we still got a huge, over wordy trilogy. ;-P No disagreement on J K Rowling, however much I love her books.
Jan. 20th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
As an interesting footnote to this, I have read a biography of Renault that discusses her years as a university student—with Tolkien as one of her tutors! He was apparently a tutor for a lot of young women: he was willing to accept them as students, and because he was married, they could come to his house for tutoring and not have to arrange chaperonage.
Jan. 17th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Olaf Stapledon seems a dubious choice for the period. Yes, he was still alive after WWII, but Last and First Men, Odd John, Star Maker, Sirius, and even most of his lesser works such as Last Men in London came out between WWI and WWII. What did he write since 1945 that you find compelling enough to merit including him on your personal list.

On the other hand, wasn't P. G. Wodehouse still writing new books into the sixties? I would call any list that omitted him from the hundred best writers of his period flawed.

The other big omission that comes to mind is Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin books. Certainly good enough for "top 100" status.
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Wodehouse wrote practically to the day of his death. His last book, Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, was published in 1974. Among his more notable post-WWII books are The Mating Season (1949), How Right You Are, Jeeves (1960), Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1962), and Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971).
Jan. 18th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
I figured if Orwell got in under the wire, Stapledon could, too. :) To be fair, he had more output than Orwell after 1945 (though Orwell's is genius, to be sure): Death Into Life, The Flames, A Man Divided, Four Encounters, and even his notes on Star Maker (published as Nebula Maker). And his influence loomed large over the genre well into the second half of the century (and into this one, for that matter). But I freely admit that my list was of favorites, not necessarily "the greatest" (which, let's face it, is really a favorites list, too).

I agree that Wodehouse is an outrageous omission. And all of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books came out long after 1945, didn't they?
Jan. 18th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I'd say that if Orwell published his most famous book after 1945, and Stapledon published several lesser works that only literary completists have even heard of, I'd include Orwell but omit Stapledon. Both S's good writing and his literary influence peaked between the World Wars. If you look only at the books each of them wrote in the actual period, Orwell would appear as a major figure, but Stapledon would scarcely even be a minor one.

None of which is to denigrate Stapledon's significance for the earlier period. The fact that he isn't recognized as a major writer of the twentieth century reflects the biases of literary critics rather than his own achievements.
Jan. 19th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Well, if I didn't use Stapledon, my next choices would also be gents who didn't make the list from The Times: Nevil Shute, or possibly Alan Moore.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )