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Fantasy > What do you look for when you pick up a fantasy/sci-fi book?

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message 1: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Generally I do tend to enjoy books with a philosophy or message to convey, thus my near-fanatical idolization of Isaac Asimov. I'm curious to know what you hope to get from a book when you start reading it?


message 2: by Sarina (new)

Sarina Rose (goodreadscomsarinarose) | 22 comments I always look for a engaging story,great vocabulary and a bit of romance or near romance. A philosophical message or moral, not so much.
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message 3: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 141 comments If it is SF, I look for interesting ideas and situations based on technological speculation and extrapolation written in an interesting and engaging way. I do not want character development to come at the expense of the overall concept and plot.

I like philosophy or a message, provided the author doesn't beat the reader on the head with it.

As for fantasy, I prefer Sword and Sorcery to High Fantasy, so my likes are pretty much the same as for SF, exchanging magic or creatively different worlds and societies, but with well written combat.


message 4: by Lenita (last edited Aug 11, 2015 03:13AM) (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 1010 comments I like epic fantasy, something that often involves a quest. Also, I like it when the author has a sense of humor, so I can laugh.


message 5: by Prex (new)

Prex Ybasco (prexybasco) | 19 comments I expect fantasy and sci-fi novels to be fast-paced. As long as a fantasy novel makes me imagine a completely different world without sounding so cheesy, then I 'm fine with it. With sci-fi novels, I want those that have convincing voice, something that will tell me the author knows what he is talking about, not just messing up with the readers' minds. I don't like it when scifi novelists just assume readers to eat up whatever they say.


message 6: by Kim (new)

Kim Burkhardt | 17 comments The exploration of spirituality concepts that are new or otherwise engaging.


message 7: by Janna (new)

Janna Morrow (JANNA_MORROW) | 52 comments I honestly do not read much Sci-Fi or Fantasy unless it is tied into paranormal/urban fantasy with vampires or werewolves. It is just not my cup of tea. I suppose it would have to be smartly written and believable to me in some way for sci-fi to engage me.


message 8: by G.R. (new)

G.R. Paskoff (grpaskoff) | 63 comments Because sci-fi and medieval fantasy are my favorite genres to read, I am often more accepting of plots, settings, characters, even if they are tired tropes I will still go back to that well. But at the same time, I am also more critical of the author's writing style, choice of words, dialogue. It could be a very interesting story, but if it's not written well I'll put it down and not pick it up again.

I also enjoy books with a speculative or philosophical message (particularly in sci-fi) but I still enjoy a traditional high fantasy, swords/sorcery find-the-magic-thing-that-saves-the-world trilogy if the characters make believable choices and not just ones to advance the plot.


message 9: by S. (last edited Aug 11, 2015 06:24AM) (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Prex wrote: "I expect fantasy and sci-fi novels to be fast-paced. As long as a fantasy novel makes me imagine a completely different world without sounding so cheesy, then I 'm fine with it. With sci-fi novels,..."

Have you read the Wheel of Time? I'm referencing its pace in lieu of your comment.


message 10: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Kim wrote: "The exploration of spirituality concepts that are new or otherwise engaging."

What about moral concepts? Such as, say, utilitarianism?


message 11: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments G.R. wrote: "Because sci-fi and medieval fantasy are my favorite genres to read, I am often more accepting of plots, settings, characters, even if they are tired tropes I will still go back to that well. But at..."

I also tend to find the choice of words and dialogue in fantasy quite important. I sometimes wonder why it's not so in cases of sci-fi... Care to share your thoughts?


message 12: by Prex (last edited Aug 11, 2015 06:49AM) (new)

Prex Ybasco (prexybasco) | 19 comments S. wrote: "Have you read the Wheel of Time? I'm referencing its pace in lieu of your comment"


Not yet but the The Merchant of DeathThe Pilgrims of RayneThe Never WarThe Rivers of Zadaa(Pendragon Series) suit my criteria.


message 13: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Entertainment.

I don't want to read a course about why the lake is purple or gold or how the spaceship disposes of wastes. I want to be pulled in the story and if the characters can show me their world doing so, that's a bonus I will gladly take.


message 14: by Kim (last edited Aug 11, 2015 10:35AM) (new)

Kim Burkhardt | 17 comments S. wrote: "Kim wrote: "The exploration of spirituality concepts that are new or otherwise engaging."

What about moral concepts? Such as, say, utilitarianism?"


Not so much. I'm a Recovered Catholic who finds some of my religious sanity in books such as Kurtz's Adept series and Harkness' A Discovery of Witches.

The more I think about it, the fantasy writers I enjoy are female writers who focus their writing on the emotional discovery within very NonCatholic religious spheres such as Masonry, witches, and sentient gargoyles.


message 15: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments Like G.G., in the fantasy / sci-fi venue I want an entertaining story without half the book (or more) being devoted to descriptions of nuts and bolts or trees.

That said, if the author wants to include appendices with details on the nuts and bolts or trees in the back matter, all well and good.


message 16: by Jim (last edited Aug 11, 2015 11:10AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1046 comments I'm really not sure how to describe what I look for in a science fiction or fantasy novel. Perhaps a list of the books of those genres, included among those I own, will do it for me.
Note: Listed in alphabetical order by author, not preference.

Science Fiction
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Dust by Charles Pellegrino
The Inverted World by Christopher Priest

Fantasy
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
The Dark Tower 7-book series by Stephen King
The Harry Potter 7-book series by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Simarillion by J.R.R. Toliien


message 17: by Yzabel (new)

Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 262 comments I don't particularly care about message/philosophy, but I definitely expect interesting and consistent characters, plots, and world-building. It seems to me that too often, one or two of these are lacking. Perhaps because authors have to focus on a different world, thus adding to their work load? (By this, I mean that "our" contemporary world already has its rules and history, so you don't have to worry as much about consistency here: the world already exists, and you can build on sturdy foundations.)

I'm not particular about said rules, mind you, as long as they fit and that the author sticks to them. I remember feeling rather miffed when I read The Paper Magician books (the first two--I didn't bother with the third) because one essential rule got very easily broken by the 17-something heroine. It made me go all "wait, the way to break this rule was SO easy, and NOBODY else figured it out in centuries? Impossible!" Suspension of disbelief going down the drain at Mach 1 here.

So, yes. Basically, I'll expect as much as from any other book, "keeping me entertained" included, with the additional yoke of world-building. Whether it's sword & sorcery fantasy or hard science fiction.


message 18: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Jim wrote: "I'm really not sure how to describe what I look for in a science fiction or fantasy novel. Perhaps a list of the books of those genres, included among those I own, will do it for me.
Note: Listed ..."


I haven't read all of those books listed, but I read most of them, and it seems to me that all those I can recognize - which I consider significant contributions to literature -have the same element of a 'golden idea' that makes you think after turning the last page and closing the book from the other side.


message 19: by Shomeret (last edited Aug 11, 2015 08:59PM) (new)

Shomeret | 138 comments I'm looking for something I've never seen, some new twist. I'm also looking for characters that are unusual or at least interesting. In addition, I want a well-paced plot without any long expository sections--particularly not in the beginning. I will not be hooked by exposition. Exposition should be on a gradual need to know basis. Tell me what I need to know when I need to know it and find a way to work it into the plot naturally. In world building I'm looking for the unusual, but I also want it to be internally consistent. Finally, the author should have something to say thematically, but don't hit me over the head with it. I don't want to read a lecture.


message 20: by G.R. (new)

G.R. Paskoff (grpaskoff) | 63 comments S. wrote: "S. wrote: "I also tend to find the choice of words and dialogue in fantasy quite important. I sometimes wonder why it's not so in cases of sci-fi... Care to share your thoughts?"

I think I've become more critical of other authors' styles since I've tried taking up the mantle of writing myself.

But as for medieval fantasy, I expect the dialogue to sound reminiscent of the period without being tedious. George R. R. Martin does a fantastic job of this. And yet there are others who can still convey a realistic medieval setting while using more modern dialect.

In sci-fi, I think we don't imagine that our vocabulary will change all that much in the future, even though it is changing all the time.


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim Burkhardt | 17 comments It's clear that the interests of sc-fi/fantasy readers is as diverse as there are sub-genres and writing styles available. A writer would perhaps have to find a way to connect with their potential niche readership. For example, try getting reviews for your book from other writers in the same sub-genre so that your name will come up in online search results along with the name of the reviewers who review your book. And/or find discussion groups - or other venues - for your specific subgenre.


message 22: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Kim wrote: "It's clear that the interests of sc-fi/fantasy readers is as diverse as there are sub-genres and writing styles available. A writer would perhaps have to find a way to connect with their potential..."

Yet it always interests me to know what people who aren't into the subgenre to share their thoughts about books I wrote or am a fan of. It makes me see things I previously ignored.


message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1046 comments S. wrote: "Jim wrote: "I'm really not sure how to describe what I look for in a science fiction or fantasy novel. Perhaps a list of the books of those genres, included among those I own, will do it for me.
N..."


S.,

Thank you for your analysis. I agree and could not have said it better myself. I have always shamelessly admitted that a few of my best ideas have come from others.


message 24: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Begley | 22 comments Most important for me is: 'Is this a good, compelling story?'
I like a good pacing to a story and characters you want to love or hate. The storyteller is doing a good job if you hate a villain in your gut.
Morality, philosophy, and politics are fine if they are part of the story, not THE story. I don't want to be preached to or scolded at in story format.


message 25: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments J.D. wrote: "Most important for me is: 'Is this a good, compelling story?'
I like a good pacing to a story and characters you want to love or hate. The storyteller is doing a good job if you hate a villain in y..."


What makes you find a story 'well paced'?


message 26: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Begley | 22 comments What makes you find a story 'well paced'?

Tastes may vary, but for me 'Well paced' means the story more or less flows along without getting bogged down too much descriptive minutiae. If something in particular needs a description, that is fine, but certainly not everything has such a need.


message 27: by Teri (new)

Teri Dluznieski (horsewisevt) | 41 comments I remember a comment from CJ Cherryh, years ago, regarding her approach to science fiction. If I have this correctly- she said.. she wasn't so concerned with how people got into space.. but rather.. what they do when they get there.' I found that insight truly profound. So, to answer the question, what do I look for.. I would say it builds on that notion. I don't look for something, or someone just because they can do magic, or fight dragons etc... I look for how that scenario affects them, changes them... and I also look for stories that shed some light into the dark places of our own world-- dark meaning the things we don't like to own... social issues, political issues, ethical issues etc. I suppose i look for depth, intelligence and perspective. Wrapped up with a bunch of cool shit, of course....


message 28: by S. (new)

S. Nileson | 45 comments Teri wrote: "I remember a comment from CJ Cherryh, years ago, regarding her approach to science fiction. If I have this correctly- she said.. she wasn't so concerned with how people got into space.. but rather..."

So you look for the non-fiction issues within a fiction setting? I'll remember this comment well. It summarizes my inclination well.


message 29: by Mason (new)

Mason Engel | 5 comments I look for high quality writing and simplicity of plot, where simplicity refers to the science/fantasy within the book. If I'm overwhelmed by the hyper-detailed nature of the science/fantasy element, I won't be very inclined to read the story that accompanies it.


message 30: by Teri (new)

Teri Dluznieski (horsewisevt) | 41 comments S. wrote: "Teri wrote: "I remember a comment from CJ Cherryh, years ago, regarding her approach to science fiction. If I have this correctly- she said.. she wasn't so concerned with how people got into space..."

I think that's a good way to phrase it:) and also philosophical? does it change the way I look at something? question something, about myself or the world in a good way:)

in anthropology, I learned that we tell stories to ourselves, by ourselves, about ourselves, for ourselves...so- what does the story I am "telling", by reading,.. do for me?

I suppose really good writing could be one way to bypass(?) r3eincarnation.... by having the ability to step into someone else's shoes for a moment..

just recently, I was reading a story, for review, where one of the characters had been a street-kid...I really didn't feel like the aspect of what it MIGHT be like, to live that kind of distrustful life, was portrayed very well. But, it got me to start thinking- while I was reading the story-- about how a street-kid WOULD be/ react/ talk in each situation: untrusting, not forth-coming, not making strong connections or bonds, etc... and trying to understand WHY...what the world must feel like to that person...and also, as a writer, how much RICHER the story would have been, written truer to that reality:)


message 31: by Janna (new)

Janna Morrow (JANNA_MORROW) | 52 comments I don't really like science fiction. Most of my life I was not a fan of stories that take place in alternate universes. I don't really understand the allure of "Maze Runner" or "Divergent", because to me, it so obviously fake. If I were to read these stories, they would have to be full of great characterization that makes me love the characters to the point that the world around them does not matter.


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