When the first edition of A Changing of the Guard was posted on SFFWorld I received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, about all aspects of the article (content, usefulness, presentation, etc…) and I wanted to take that feedback and really step up when it came time to put together this third edition of my popular (and controversial!) series of articles outlining some of the newest and brightest stars of the SF/F genre!
I’ve put a lot of time an effort into this, so I hope you like the new and improved “A Changing of the Guard! I’d love to hear what some of you think, so feel encouraged to leave a comment!
Eldon Thompson is a good friend of mine, a person I know I can always bounce ideas off of if I ever need someone to talk to about the craft of writing. But that isn’t why he’s on this list. He’s on the list because even before I had communicated with him in any way I knew he would one day be a star in the genre.
Radone (SFFWorld Forum User) mentions that Thompson’s work is an obvious homage to some veteran authors such as Terry Brooks and David Eddings, and that it “is in that same vein and well-done for one of those types of books”. Thompson reminds me very much of a young Terry Brooks, bringing back memories of first discovering the realm of Fantasy. Jay (of Fantasybookspot), in his review of Eldon’s first novel, The Crimson Sword, says, “If you enjoy writers like Terry Brooks or David Eddings you should have no problems enjoying The Crimson Sword”. Since we all know how many readers out there do enjoy those two authors, it’s obvious that Eldon has a large audience to draw from!
One comment by Radone (SFFWorld Forum User), that I fully agree with, is that Eldon’s “secondary characters are the strength of the book”. Thompson has an ability to craft compelling characters who strengthen the main characters. He understands the importance of these characters and many of them quickly take on a life of their own (swordsman Kylac Kronus is the first to come to mind!)
Anyone looking for Epic Fantasy in the vein of the popular writers of the 80’s and early 90’s (Brooks, Eddings, Feist, Williams, etc…) will be sure to enjoy Eldon’s first trilogy, The Legend of Asahiel.
Since first being published in 2000 (Storm Front) Jim Butcher has expanded The Dresden Files series of books to nine volumes, with a 10th scheduled for release in April of 2008. Over the course of those seven or so years, Butcher has risen steadily in popularity, continuing to be a favourite among fans and critics of the genre alike.
“For starters, this is a wonderful premise. A wizard/P.I. investigating both the normal and the paranormal in modern day, and getting into trouble on both ends. As someone who writes and loves both mysteries and fantasy, I’m pissed that I didn’t think of this first,” says Bear (SFFWorld Forum User) who then continues on to say, “The series gets better with each installment”. It’s always that encouraging an author is able to stay not only consistent as they publish novels, but to actually improve with each volume.
On The Westeros Forums, a thread titled Thank God for Jim Butcher, user thebadlady says, “I got the first book and really liked it so I went crazy and bought all the rest and read them one right after the other in a few days. That usually makes me get sick really fast of the chars and the oddities in the author’s writings. Not this time!” to which fellow user penandink responds, “I think the character is continually becoming deeper and richer, and the stories continue to be entertaining and ass-kicking,” and Tormund Midgetsbane loves “the pulpy, faux Dick Tracy feel of them”. The Westeros Forums are notoriously picky and any time they all agree strongly on a novel is sure to make me pay attention!
Butcher is at the forefront of the increasingly popular Urban Fantasy/Contemporary Fantasy and it doesn’t look like he has any plans of slowing down any time soon!
Matthew Woodring Stover
Matthew Woodring Stover is probably best known for his work in the Star Wars Extended Universe, including his novelization of The Revenge of the Sith (the two prequels, (strong>The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones were penned by industry heavyweights Terry Brooks and R.A. Salvatore respectively). But he has written other novels outside of the Star Wars Universe that deserve attention.
Gary Wassner (Moderator of the SFFWorld Forums and author of the GemQuest series of novels) says of Stover’s novels, “writes amazing, action packed, intelligent books”. Eventine (another prominent member of the SFFWorld Forums) expands on this, “His protagonist in Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle (I haven’t read any of his Star Wars work), Caine, is one of the more memorable characters going around. I’ve still yet to see anyone else write action scenes as entertaining.”
Regina Lynn Preciado, of popular SF/F review site SFSite, also really enjoyed Stover’s Heroes Die, “It’s been a long while since I got this excited about a new writer. Not that Stover is new — Heroes Die is his third, and best, novel to date. It’s just that, in a genre that lends itself so well to ongoing series, sometimes the more recent talents get lost in the Jordan- and Anthony-dominated stacks.”
ARWZ.com even went so far as to declare that “Matthew Stover is the best fantasy author you’re not reading”. If those aren’t reason enough to give Stover a chance then I don’t know what is!
Tobias S. Buckell is another of those oft-mentioned (at least here at A Dribble of Ink) authors from the class of 2006. His first novel, Crystal Rain had the distinction of being a finalist for Best First Novel by the Locus Awards, and honour that few other authors share. ezchaos (of the SFFWorld Forums)raved about the novel, saying that he “really enjoyed the original storyline … the “forgotten colonists” thing is sometimes overused, but I feel Buckell gave it a nice new spin.”. Donna Royton of Strange Horizon’s agreed, “Crystal Rain contains some hidden places where wonders lie concealed, ready to break out into the light of day when the old-fathers’ works are brought back to life.”
Buckell recently released his second novel, Ragamuffin, a non-direct sequel to Crystal Rain (taking place in the same Universe) and it has been met with similar critical acclaim. In his recent review of Ragamuffin, Jason, of Monsters and Critics lauds Buckell and his first two novels, “both Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin are excellent places for new readers to discover the current science fiction genre. These books are accessible for readers unfamiliar with the genre, yet deep enough to be enjoyed by even veteran science fiction readers.” Graeme (from Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review), picked up Buckell’s novel with a bit of a chip on his shoulder but quickly realized just how wrong he was, “Itâ€™s not just any old book either; itâ€™s a â€˜Sci-Fi Essentialâ€™, part of a collaboration between Tor Books and the Sci-Fi Channel to highlight the best in new sci-fi/fantasy literature. Iâ€™m one of those people who really donâ€™t like being told what is essential for them to read so Iâ€™ll admit that I approached this one with my customary cynicism. By the time Iâ€™d finished it, all cynicism had been thrown out of the window and replaced with that warm feeling you get when youâ€™ve read a really good book. I want to read more of Tobias Buckellâ€™s stuff!”
Whether you’re a veteran of Science Fiction or just looking to dive into the genre, Tobias Buckell sounds like a sure bet to please you. Plus, he also just so happens to be the person that may have caught Harriet Klausner (the #1 Amazon.com reviewer) cheating! (Check out the story HERE.)
Tobias runs a terrific blog, so make sure to drop by and say hello! Also, keep an eye out here for an interview with Mr. Buckell himself, coming soon.
I hope you enjoyed this new and improved edition of A Changing of the Guard! As you can see, I really tried to go out and utilize the great community of forumers, bloggers and reviewers to prove just why these authors deserve space on your shelf. Make good use of the Comments section and let me know what you think of the new format and the articles over all!