Any fans of Tanith Lee, here?

Connavar

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I remember reading Electric Fortress a long time ago and that I liked it. Other than that, I remember practically nothing about it. Sometimes I think about rereading it, to find out if it holds up well.

Since you can get it for free, why not?
I was only worriying a little someone might say its TL weakest book or something. But since its free and the other novel is the second in a series Electric Fortress became my choice.
 

J-Sun

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If you didn't like Birthgrave you're unlikely to be enthusiastic about the two sequels. At least, I wasn't.
I'll never know. I decided not to follow those up. Good to know it's not just me - I'm under the impression The Birthgrave's pretty well regarded but I was kind of wondering why.

Birthgrave disappointed me too because it was better written than other stories of hers i read but the female character,what was happening to her felt not very interesting. I like the world,the weirdness but she lost me when half tru the book.
I can't remember what all it was but what you say regarding the protagonist sounds like at least part of it. I don't remember liking the world either.

But, for readers of the thread, the negativity on her first one shouldn't obscure the general positives.

Have you guys read Electric Forest from 1979 and Personal Darkness (Blood Opera Sequence, Book 2) ?

Im too broke to buy a book her right now but those two books i can get for free in Bookmooch.

So i need help if someone have read those books. I miss her writing.
That's weird - if you do mean Electric Forest (1979) (Fortress crept in there somewhere) then that's a Lee I'd read but forgotten until you mentioned it. AFAIR, I liked it less than Sun/Sapphire/Metal/etc. but more than Birthgrave. It's one of her earlier more SF-like books and not great, but readable.

So that's two "I forgot almost everything about it but that it was at least okay"s. :D

I have the first two Blood Opera books (the third drowned in the ocean - not available in the US, AFAIK) but I haven't read them. Supposed to horror, unsurprisingly. They sound either awful or fantastic and I was being optimistic. But I guess your Electric Whatever is a done deal now.
 

Connavar

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My mind played tricks with the whole forest being fortress in the title.

Good to hear you say more about Electric Forest anyway because the synopsis i found didnt say much in what genre it was. Will be interesting to read a SF like novel of hers. It doesnt have to be great really im using it as warm up for more of her books to read. I see the first few Tales of Flat Earth novels got reprinted late 2010.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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All the time I was repeating your mistake of "Electric Fortress" when I typed in the name, I was thinking "Electric Forest." Odd the way the senile human brain works.

Anyway, get the book. Nobody's taste is going to exactly match yours. Even if we all hated it, you might still like it, and even if we all thought it was the best thing ever, you might hate it. The book is free and by an author who has written something else that you liked.

J-Sun said:
I'm under the impression The Birthgrave's pretty well regarded but I was kind of wondering why.
I think because it was exciting and different when it first came out. It established her right away as an important new voice in fantasy. Those who regard it highly remember how they felt when they first read it, back when it first appeared.
 

jojajihisc

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Tanith Lee had a story in Asimov's a few months ago called Torhec the Sculptor that was pretty good. I saw the end coming, but it was still a fun idea about a sculptor who creates and then immediately destroys his work after every show.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I'll look for that one in some future collection of her stories.

I ordered two books of her short fiction Sounds and Furies and Hunting the Shadows from amazon and they arrived this week. I'm less than halfway through the second one, but reading and contrasting them has brought me back to a thought I had while rereading a couple of her novels, (Heart-Beast and Vivia, recently. I'm not sure why I even reread them because I knew they depressed me the first time, except that they turned up in a box of books I had packed away some time ago.

And that thought is: The more sex there is in one of her stories, the darker and crueler the story is likely to be. And love, with or without sex, is usually destructive. She's rather like R Murray Gilchrist in that respect, except that in all of his stories that I remember love and death are invariably linked, and very occasionally in one of hers love is redemptive.
 

Connavar

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Thats interesting to me because i have been reading realism literary movement era drama,novels and sex,love is often destructive.

It made me think of Tanith Lee stories i had read!
 

J-Sun

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The Wars of Vis is a wonderful series.
Can you or anyone else tell me what I'm missing? I just read 'Book One' of The Storm Lord and had to quit - and I almost never quit a book I've started. (I also read the prologue/preface thing to Anackire which, I guess, completely spoils the previous volume and didn't make it sound like I'd missed anything and, of course, if I'm not reading the one, I won't be reading the other.) Probably three main things for me: 1) the prose is overwrought and often just plain doesn't make sense. The skies are always red (and, if anything's red, it's blood-red) or silver, blue, indigo, purple or green or something (a blurb places her in company with Moore and Brackett but those could evoke tremendously powerful and coherent visual imagery with measured, targeted prose and Lee's in this ain't that); 2) I intensely dislike every character unless maybe a poor dead schmuck but even he had questionable taste and decision-making processes - and is dead - and intensely dislike both 'races' and the whole feudal 'birthright' stuff; 3) it reads like what I imagine Norman's Gor books read like.

Is it possible that she has a quirky sense of whimsy she allows to come out in some SF (a genre I don't believe is natural to her but that she can create pleasing slight works in) and that she has a twisted decadence that works very well in horror or at least goth-y semi-horror works but that, whatever's going on in her epic/heroic/sword-and-sorcery/whatever fantasy simply can't work for me? I mean, is it her or me? I don't read much of this stuff (Morgaine or the Incompleat Enchanter or Lankhmar (and Brackett/Moore) is about as close as I get) so it's possible this is good and I just don't get it but it seems pretty awful to me.

And, based on this, should I even try to read the Flat Earth stuff? Can she be broken down into 'minor SF', 'decadent horror', 'whatever fantasy', 'other'? And is Flat Earth interestingly gothic/horror or boringly classist sword-and-sorcery fantasy?
 

Teresa Edgerton

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A significant difference, I think, between my opinion of these stories and yours is that I like Lee's "overwrought prose." I find the prose in a lot of fantasy bland and predictable, and hers quite exuberant and often unexpected. Her characters are vivid and passionate; they suffer, they struggle, they may tragic mistakes. Hard to get this across in prose that is any less vivid and passionate. Also, I can't remember anything that I didn't understand. But her prose is not to everyone's taste; I understand that. Some prefer a more subtle approach.

As for the plot and characters, I actually didn't care for them myself the first time I read the books. They've grown on me over time. I find the books quite different than the usual sword-and-sorcery which tends to revolve around the exploits of a brawny hero whose inevitable success comes about through his remarkable physical condition and his ability to make silly girls fall in love with him, or the exploits of a wily rogue who succeeds by being cleverer than everyone else. Nothing comes easily for the heroes of these stories.

As for the "feudal birthright" ... well, it isn't as though she's recommending it. Rather the reverse, I would say. But just as happy familes tend to be boring, kingdoms ruled justly by the will of the people rarely produce stories as interesting as the struggle against tyranny. Although this, too, may be a matter of taste.
 

J-Sun

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Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the whole post but especially

I find the books quite different than the usual sword-and-sorcery which tends to revolve around the exploits of a brawny hero whose inevitable success comes about through his remarkable physical condition and his ability to make silly girls fall in love with him, or the exploits of a wily rogue who succeeds by being cleverer than everyone else. Nothing comes easily for the heroes of these stories.
I think this may be part of the problem - this may be a sort of fantasy for connoisseurs where part of the strength is variations on the theme where I don't know or care about the theme, so it's lost on me. And this may have cascading effects - I guess in the attempt to avoid typical fantasy black and white characters she makes them gray - and I could easily enjoy that, but they all seem excessively dark gray rather than light gray, so to speak. Uniformly dark gray, rather than varying shades of gray. I think this even goes back to something you said about The Birthgrave, as far as it just seeming different from the run-of-the-mill (even though I think you disliked that particular one as I did).

Anyway, maybe Tanith Lee - at least her outright 'heroic' fantasy - isn't for me after all, but at least maybe I understand why a bit better.
 

Connavar

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A significant difference, I think, between my opinion of these stories and yours is thatI like Lee's "overwrought prose." I find the prose in a lot of fantasy bland and predictable, and hers quite exuberant and often unexpected.
I just must say i strongly agree with you, i thought the same when i first read Tanith Lee. I thought nice to read a fantasy writer who has prose that isnt predictable,bland. I liked her style, mentally i compared her to Jack Vance since he is the premiere stylist i know in SFF.

Of course not similar prose style but just because she wasnt bland prose style.
 

Starman

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I like Lee's "overwrought prose." I.
Hear, hear! Her ability to emmerse you into her vivid worlds is astonishing. Her prose is among my favourites. Always engaging, creative, vivid and sometimes hilarious. I wish I could play with words like her. She should TEACH this stuff. Another author who could match her style was the late Dianna Wynne Jones.
 

Starman

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Just finished "Sabella". One word...BOOORING. What a disappointment. I hope "The Black Unicorn" fares better, though. I think it will.
 
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