Sunday, February 13, 2005

I have a soft spot

for a certain kind of fantasy novel that is admittedly fairly trashy--a word that when used in the phrase "trashy novels" for me implies a kind of compliment--but that features good story-telling and appealing characters, and I picked up a few used PBs by Mercedes Lackey the other day and read them with great enjoyment this weekend. The lightest of light reading... The better of the two was The Serpent's Shadow, a sort of Conan Doyle-Wilkie Collins-Dorothy Sayers pastiche with some ridiculous orientalist-type Hindu content, but a very enjoyable read nonetheless. The other was Magic's Pawn, the first in another of the (seemingly endless string of) Valdemar trilogies. There is something admirable about the way that so many of the best-selling female fantasy novelists of the 70s and 80s began to write about same-sex relationships between men without making a big deal about it. I'm not sure why this happened, or exactly what motivates it, but surely it was a progressive thing that writers like Anne McCaffrey and (even more) Marion Zimmer Bradley and so on made sex between men a central part of their fiction? And you can see it continuing in a more interesting way in some more contemporary horror/dark fantasy fiction, Caitlin Kiernan and Poppy Z. Brite and so on--a much more expansive notion of sex than you usually find in noir crime fiction, for instance, which is often aesthetically superior but rather less unexpected in its sexual permutations and combinations. (But this is partly why I loved Ken Bruen's Hackman Blues, which gleefully breaks all of the noir conventions about the narrator's sexuality.)


  1. So I'm not sure what you consider trasy fantasy... but have you read Dara Joy? She does a sort of sci-fi romance novel. It''s fluff but Ithought it was fun, as romance novels go. Mine to Take is the first of an unfinished sieries. You should try it out. She also does a novel that switches the gender roles in a standard romance. It is totally strange and most romance readers don't like it but I found it a fascinating study of the formula of a Romance novel. And how gender role- reversal can affect how one relates to the characters.

  2. That sounds good--I'll check it out. Thanks for the rec!