Saturday, July 07, 2007

Grumblings about Harry Potter Launch and Other Stuff

The world eagerly awaits Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

The bookstore where I work will be launching the book on 21st July, at 7:01 am. I have been informed by my boss that I will have to report for work that Saturday at 6 am. They tell me everyone will be needed to help with the preparation (I have already done some heavy lifting for the HP promotional materials. Thankfully I possess some physical strength.)

I groan just thinking about this, because it screws up my daily schedule: On normal workdays I usually get up at 5 am for my morning yoga practice and to prepare lunch (the eating places around my office are not very vegetarian-friendly). If I have to be at the bookstore by 6 am, this will mean having to get up by 4 am if I wish to finish my routine. That means I need to be in bed by 8 pm the night before ― except I have yoga class that evening and can only be home by 9 pm.

I realised how I have organised my life around a rigid schedule, and when it is disrupted I get agitated. I need to breathe more, but I desperately need the rigid schedule to stay disciplined ― because I lose focus easily.

But most of all, I don't want to be a part of the Harry Potter launch. Too much hype tarnished the magic of the Harry Potter books for me.

I admit: I'm one of the millions of readers who will be picking up the seventh Harry Potter this July. Not because I love the series though ― I enjoyed the earlier books well enough, and I was enchanted by the first film adaptation ― but now I just feel obliged to finish the last book. I don't give a damn if Harry dies at the end. All that publicity to guess the ending of Harry Potter 7 just leaves me cold and cynical about the banal commercial side of the book industry; I hate this bitter side of me.

On unrelated threads, Deslily brought to my attention this new Dragonlance title, Dragons Of The Highlord Skies. It's part of the Lost Chronicles series, and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman co-author the title. I read the Dragonlance series when I was a teenager and I was such a big fan. I wept when Sturm Brightblade died by the hands of his friend, Kitiara, a Dragon Highlord ― but I was furious when Kitiara died and Tanis did nothing to protect her from Lord Soth.

I'm tempted by this new Dragonlance title, because I liked the character of Kitiara (I have always been drawn to the morally ambiguous characters). Most of all, it will be my re-introduction to the Dragonlance series.

Over the years I read less from the sword-and-sorcery fantasy genre. In my younger days, I used to stalk out the bookstores for the latest titles by my favourite fantasy authors ― but now George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is the only fantasy series I still look forward to.

All is not lost though. Since signing up for Carl's Once Upon A Time Challenge, I have been thinking about how I would like to do more Fantasy and SF readings. The geek that I am, I have drawn up a list:

Dark Orpheus's Fantasy and SF Reading List (In Progress):

  1. Octavia E. Butler's Bloodchild and Other Stories
  2. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles
  3. T.H. White's The Once and Future King
  4. James Tiptree, Jr.'s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
  5. C. J. Cherryh's Cyteen (re-read)
  6. Roger Zelzany's Chronicles of Amber, re-read Lord of Light
  7. Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster Series
  8. Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Liebowitz
  9. Tim Powers's The Stress of Her Regard
  10. Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy

How does the list look? I'm open to any recommendations. Good fantasy and SF titles you've read and loved. I have a whole lifetime to read, so who cares if the TBR pile is already too high?

There was another title that caught my eye at work ― Natasha Mostert's Season of the Witch. I was prepared to let it go, unless I find it one day in the library, but Carl had to go post a review on it and pique my interest further. He also mentioned that it's the perfect book to read for this September's R.I.P. Challenge. So, you know what? I think I will.


chrisa511 said...

I know what you mean about schedules. I build my life around schedules which is both a blessing and a curse. I like having life organized, but at the same time, it's rough being so rigid and scheduled...especially when that schedule gets thrown out of whack. It's like red lights go flashing and sirens go off.

As to Harry Potter, I feel sort of the same way as you do. I read the first six, I have to finish it now. No doubt though, by the time I finish it, I'll be ranting and raving and all excited about it. I'm still somewhat excited about the book coming up, but I agree with you that it's all just to overdone!

Ana S. said...

Even though I love the Harry Potter series, I understand your feelings about the way it's marketed. It really is overdone. It upsets me quite a bit to read reviews or magazine articles that act as if Rowling invented fantasy, for example. But yeah, fortunately I have managed so far to not let that get in the way of my enjoyment of the books.

I LOVE The Once and Future King and the Prydain Chronicles. Happy reading, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on them.

Imani said...

I'm still invested in the Harry Potter series but that may be because I resisted for so long. I wasn't converted until the fourth book (and I hated the first two before Azkaban). I'm able to shrug off the hyper-marketing -- although the knowledge that indies here don't expect to make a profit from sales literally pains me -- but Rowling's ever so often press released updates on the book about who's gonna die and what made her cry and blah blah get on top of my frickin' nerves.

I'm doing the buy-at-midnight purchase.

For fantasies I recommend Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. A very thrilling ride and different in interesting ways from fantasies I've read. Have you read the Otori quartet by Lian Hearn? Very cool books that riff on feudal Japan that read like a translation although it was originally written in English by an Australian. East by Edith Pattou is a memorable retelling of a Norwegian tale -- very strong female heroine, excellent writing, interesting departures from the original. Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Towsend Warner -- strangest stories you'll probably ever read, some first published in the "New Yorker" if you can believe it if you try the stories out.

chrisa511 said...

Ooh, great suggestion Imani...I forgot about the Abhorsen trilogy by Nix...I loved those books..I second that recommendation!

Unknown said...

So 21st is gonna be a tiring day for you. I'll try to get Asian Boys tix for 22nd 3pm matinee then. Inform you when i finally book it, awaiting Fridae to email me weekly newsletter so i can get 10% off.

darkorpheus said...

Chris: Schedule - we like to pretend we're being disciplined, but maybe sometimes we're just being control-freaks. Well, at least I am. ;p

We'll compare notes on HP 7 - just maybe no spoilers unless we set up advance warnings? I was spoiled about a certain character's death for HP 6 via a phone message. *ahem* The person knows who she is. :)

Nymeth: I'll definitely try tp post something after I get around to T.H. White or Lloyd Alexander. Probably read Prydain first/ I remember the Disney animation for The Black Cauldron, and I always wanted to read the Prydain Chronicles since then. I even played the computer game for The Black Cauldron. Never finished it though.

Imani: Glad I'm not the only one utterly disgusted with the Rowling weeping and other media rubbish. I feel like screaming at that woman: "You wrote a bestselling series. You're richer than the Queen. GET OVER YOURSELF!"

"Oh, and she changed one word from the ending." WTF?

And thanks for the recommendations. I'm taking notes, and checking the bookstore and library for what's available.

Ah Leng: Hey, thanks. But I think it should be no problem doing the 3pm show on 21st July.

Remember the previous HP launches - when I had to crawl to work the next morning - after being utterly drunk at The Boys' place? :)

Those were my drinking days. Nostalgic, but I'm glad those days are over.

DesLily said...

It's odd how now that harry potter is drawing to an end some of it's appeal (excitement) is waning.. it did with me too.. but not because of the "death threats" so much.. it was Rowlings herself, who up until this last book I admired greatly. Then when it came out in print that the "reason" she was "killing off characters" was so that no one else could ever use them.. it just struck me soooo wrong. I mean, hello?.. copywrited material! and if the copywrite ever expires it will be well after she has expired too!..anyway.. as much as i know (and feel myself) that one would never want a character they created to be in someone elses made me loose something inside for the author.

I love the Dragonlance series..well, the ones by Weis and Hickman.. too many good characters not to get hooked lol. For me, besides the ones you'd expect a woman to like (Tanis, Caramon, Tika, I also loved Tasslehoff Burrfoot and ..Raistlin!)
Dragons of the Highlord Skies is the second of a new trilogy. The first being Dragons of the Dwarven Depths.

wow.. i read Prydain Chronicles so long ago I don't even remember what they were about! The Riddlemaster series also..but there was a tv movie made from those so that refreshed my memory some lol.

Did you ever read any of the Dragon Riders of Pern series???

Ana S. said...

I actually like Prydain better than The Once and Future King. I only got to see the Disney animation this year, and as expected, it's a bit of a departure from the books. The series is not extremely complex or anything, but they are fun books that grow progressively darker/deeper as the series advances. My favourite is the 4th, so don't give up if you're not too crazy about the first. Plus, I just love the way he uses Welsh mythology.

I third the Garth Nix recommendation! Another great series.

I try to stay away from the media circus surrounding Harry Potter... I think it's a good thing that I don't know what you are talking about when you mention Rowling weeping :P

Unknown said...

Okie, will sms you once i get tix. I think fridae newsletter gets emailed out mid-week.

Anonymous said...

Ah you poor thing. I actually think I'll be staying away from the bookstore on Harry Potter day. I mean, I'm glad a book can create such a hullabaloo but I go to the bookstore to relax not to be surrounded by kids going crazy over H.P. :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I haven't read any of the HP books and alot of that is about the hype, so I can understand how you feel about the hype machine. I also understand, though, how once a person is hooked on an author they want that author to get as much press, etc. and have success so that they will keep on writing. It is both an art and a business and those don't always mix as beautifully as we'd like them to.

Glad you are choosing to read more fantasty. There are so many great books out there that it is a shame to stay away from the genre. I enjoyed the Riddlemaster series, but I like Patricia McKillip's later stuff better, particularly Ombria in Shadow and In the Forests of Serre.

I loved (as you can see in my review) the two book Wizard Knight series by Gene Wolfe (The Knight and The Wizard).

I've raved about and really enjoyed John Scalzi's science fiction books. Jack Vance and Robert Sheckley write some of the most wonderful sci fi and fantasy short stories you'll ever come across.

Anonymous said...

My husband has been making jokes about which of us is going to get to read the final HP first. The last three I devoured the weekend they came out but for some reason I am not as keen on this one. I still want to read it but not necessarily in a binge weekend.

How about adding Sheri S Tepper to your list? Gate to Women's Country is excellent if you haven't already read it.

darkorpheus said...

Deslily: Dragon Riders of Pern - never read that. I get the idea it's a whole big series and if I don't start from the first book, I will not be able to follow.

Nymeth: It was the write-up on the way Alexander uses myth in his stories that rekindled the interest. (I like stories that uses the old myths, the old stories.) That - and the fact he died this year. ;p

Iliana: Actually, I alway wondered about the fans who would line up at 7:01 am for the book. Do they really love the series that much? I'm being judgemental here, so I better shut up now.

Carl: Thanks for the recommendations. I'm looking forward to reading Patricia McKillip actually - but I'll see what's available at the library first.

Stefanie: I think I have only read 1 Sheri S. Tepper - The True Game, because it was about a chess game. I was interested in Gibbon's Decline and Fall actually - have you read it before?

Wow - how did you manage the weekend binge for the last 3 Harry Potters? They were MASSIVE.

DesLily said...

I would recommend Anne McCaffrey's Pern Series.. here are the very first 3 books... (and you can end with that if you so choose)

Dragon Flight
Dragon Quest
The White Dragon

It's a rare fantasy in that.. there's no huge war going on! It's a character driven series. But I guess you'd at least have to like dragons lol.. however, I might add that the dragons are all individual, with names and become some of the characters too!

Melwyk said...

I'm not working at the library the HP day, thank goodness. And I refused to go in just to ready the books for them; if they can't figure it out I'd have to wonder.

I love McKillip; one of her more recent ones I liked was "Alphabet of Thorn", but my sentimental favourite is always "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld".

Anonymous said...

you get up at 5!!? wow. what time do you get to bed? 9, i suppose...

it does seem cool, though... getting up early and doing yoga. i do like the atmosphere in the mornings, the early morning sun, the birds singing, all that.

i've always been curious about the dragonlance books. a friend read one in high school and i used to be a keen d&d'er when i was a teen. are the dragonlance books good?

darkorpheus said...

Deslily: Thanks! One of my colleague is a fan of the Pern series - might borrow something from her one day.

Melanie: Haha! Yes, no one needs the new Harry Potter THAT badly. Stay home. Rest. Harry Potter can wait.

JP: I get to bed around 10pm, sometimes a little later. The schedule seriously cuts down on my social time though. I really wonder sometimes if I'm neglecting other aspects of my life.

I loved the origial Dragonlance Chronicles in my teens. Quests, courage, sacrifice - all the elements we want in good adventure stories.

Anonymous said...

Some other excellent fantasy books are:
Barbara Hambly--

(The Sun-Cross Books)
The Rainbow Abyss
The Magicians of Night

(The Darwath Trilogy)
The Time of the Dark
The Walls of Air
The Armies of Daylight


Emma Bull--
War For the Oaks

Anything edited by Terri Windling

Just about anything written by Charles De Lint

Ursula K. LeGuin--
The Dispossessed
(This is Science Fiction rather than fantasy)