The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

0 Comments

  1. Aw, do I really hafta?

  2. Canada out of Afghanistan NOW! Vote NDP!

  3. I’m pretty sure what Reed actually said was “Ambiguity is our most important thingy.” With a dramatic pause before the last word.

    It’s a takeoff on the old gray-flannel GE slogan from 1961 or thereabouts: “Progress Is Our Most Important Product”.

    But have fun with the folk process…

  4. I read Jhegaala in a single sitting today, trying to keep my mind off things over which I have no control.

    Half my life ago, I read Jhereg in a single sitting, and it got me trough a really rough night.

    Thanks.

  5. An excuse! I got to see Steve and Emma Bull perform at CopperCon 28 last weekend. Great Show!

    Here as promised are the pictures I took (also some shots of some wandering belly dancers and other folks). Rights reserved, but contact me if you want to use any, I’m easy.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferragus/sets/72157607134691414/

  6. According to http://www.icon.org.il/2008/en/Steven_Brust Steven is going to be GoH in Israel next month. Is that true?
    If so, I believe it deserves a mention here 🙂

  7. Almost done with my tattoo of the Issola cover. It looks totally radical!

  8. Anyone playing Spore?

  9. corwin

    Yes, I’ll be in Israel next month.

  10. I’d like to say that I would rather be posting here on Words Words Words than with the finest people in the world.

  11. corwin

    Jay Bell @ 4: Music to my ears; thank you!

    P.Duncan @ 10: That sounds like a reference to something I almost remember.

  12. It’s a toast that goes something like “I’d rather be here with you people tonight….than with the finest people in the world. I don’t know where I first heard it though but I always thought it was funny.

    Going to get up early in the morning, make some coffee, and dig into Jhegaala before the kids get up for school!

  13. The quote you are almost remembering @10 and 12 is from a speech made by Fred Willard in the Steve Martin movie Roxanne.

  14. Duhhh… too tired to say anything.

    But slowly working on bringing Cracks and Shards up to date. Also The Filker With No Nickname, my online song collection.

  15. Finished Jhegaala a few days ago; loved it. I keep finding it at the local mega-bookstore chains and putting it up on the ‘display’ shevles, since I’m not allowed to buy 17 copies for myself. Looking forward to your itch!

    What are you doing in Israel? [Prays the answer is something like “Takin’ notes for To Reign in Hell – Part II!”] ;->

  16. corwin

    Oh, and thanks. 🙂

  17. You are both my comfort reading and, at times, my challenge.

    There are no words except “thank you.” So…

    Thank you.

  18. All Jhereg fans!
    http://www.kickassmysticninjas.com/

    Great podcast! Show 40 is on Jhereg. Enjoy!

  19. Miramon just got me started reading this new (well, to me) author – Haruki Murakami. I’m only a few books into his substantial body of work, but those I’ve read so far vary from good to outstanding. His prose is a treat to read, even in translation.

    I guess I’d describe his style as surrealist, but unlike a typical surrealist who might attempt to jar you out of taking things literally with absurdity or non-sequitor, his imagery fits seamlessly into fascinating not-quite-real-world stories.

  20. I am just glad to have found this place. It is exactly what I would expect of one of my favorite Authors.

    Interesting with a strong hint of smart-ass.

    Darque
    (-)

  21. corwin

    patdelise @ 19: Fun show. They said lots of nice things about me, and some well-taken not-so-nice things. The only one that annoyed me was when I was accused of Spellbreaker being a rip-off of Frakir from the second Amber series. Sheesh. Can’t these people read copyright dates?

  22. Reading would lead to knowledge, that would prevent them from standing up and making a fool out of themselves.

    Can’t have that, what else would they do with their time?

  23. I read the Merlin half of the Amber series last week. A number of times, I thought, “that’s like what Mr Brust did. Only he did it better.”

    Take from that what you will.

  24. I’m pissed off.

    As of this morning LiveJournal has been blocked by my employer’s IT. It’s only a matter of time when this site is too.

    Fitz’s blog and this one are the first two sites I open in the morning to intellectually tickle my mind into a constructive framework for the day.

    Don’t they know that a happy worker is a productive one? Looks like I’ll be forced to use net at home a bit more.

  25. Where’s Sticks when you need him? One visit would clear that up.

  26. skzb @ 22: What did you think of their casting choices for the hypothetical Jhereg movie?
    Vin Diesel as Morrolan? Ugh!

  27. Per literature and food analogy — I have discovered Hamburger! It’s a step up from popcorn, clearly, but the least nourishing and complicated form of steak one can imagine. It goes down almost like popcorn, but there are nuggets that are just worth chewing over for an entire evening. What is it? you ask.

    The Anita Blake books by Laurel K. Hamilton.

  28. JP@29 The first books in that series are good stuff, but beware the series degenerates into bad porn later on. Such a disappointment.

  29. Rathgar,

    Appreciate the heads-up.

    I’m actually pretty well into them. For sure NC-17 material there, but I don’t see it as gratuitous. Not terribly necessary for the plot, but does help to flesh out some of the themes, I think. In a world where a lot of one’s basic assumptions don’t hold sway, what is morality? Is it purely objective, or more subjective? How does one balance one’s obligations to self, versus obligations to others?

    Not terribly well-developed, to be sure. But I kinda like that, because leaving things open-ended makes me think about stuff in ways I didn’t before, catch little a-ha moments here and there.

    I don’t throughly disagree, though, and that’s why I call them hamburger — the lowest form of steak. Harlequins they’re not, but neither are they meaty fiction.

    The one thing that does bother me about the books, when I think about it, is Hamilton’s utter inability to do anything else when she’s describing something. So a paragraph to a few pages of description every now and then unintentionally but very effectively disrupts the narrative flow. I sure would hope that someone who makes their living as a writer would see a more serious obligation to the craft.

    By contrast, for example, I was impressed by how Jo Rowling wrote noticeably better in the later books than the earlier ones in terms of pacing, dialogue and characterization. Hamilton shows if you’ve got something going that people will buy you don’t have to.

    Sad, that.

  30. Mmkay, I just finished Jhegaala and discovered to my dismay that I had missed Dzur altogether. After running out at 9pm last night to purchase it I’ve found that it actually precedes Jhegaala? Am I correct in this? Also is there a place online that lists the books in chronological order? I lost my first few books a few years back in a storage shed fiasco so I just purchased ‘The Book of Jhereg’ which has the order Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla which I think is the order you wrote them but it isn’t chronological, eh? Also, any plans for writing another vampire book? Maybe a prelude to Agyar? Undoubtedly some of your best work there.

  31. corwin

    Yes, Dzur precedes Jhegaala. I’m sure the chronological order is online somewhere, but I couldn’t say where offhand.

    No plans for a prelude to Agyar, but thanks for asking.

  32. Nvm, found it! Taltos, Yendi, Dragon, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Athyra, Orca, Issola, Jhegaala, Dzur.

  33. Dzur precedes Jhegaala

  34. @22 etc. huh…looking up things in the great and all knowing wikipedia: “Frakir, a piece of rope enchanted during Merlin’s walk through the Logrus, warns of danger and acts as a weapon. When Ghostwheel is completed, Merlin occasionally “wears” it in the form of a ring”

    the first chronicles of amber are copyrighted 1970-1978 but the Merlin chronicles don’t get copyrighted till 1985-1991

    So someone refresh my memory, just cuz I am curious, where does Frakir appear first?

    And then someone tell me how those folks felt that Spellbreaker was a ripoff of a rope/ring, cuz i don’t get it…

  35. Dzur precedes Jhegaala??? I thought the events in Jhegaala occurred after Phoenix and before Athyra.

    What then, happened to Laday Teldra? OMG I must of missed something in the book!

    I thought the chronological order was:
    Taltos, Yendi, Dragon, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Jhegaala, Athyra, Orca, Issola, Dzur.

    wave of panic and stupidity washes over my person. Need to re-read books –properly

  36. “Dzur precedes Jhegaala”

    Eh? But in Dzur Vlad is missing a finger, I thought he lost that during Jhegaala. Also don’t remember mention of a great weapon in Jhegaala.

  37. Ha, I think we need mandatory adverbs in this conversation.

    Precedes chronologically
    Precedes publishedically

  38. Review #33

  39. schmwarf@37: I think you have the chrono order correct; Jhegaala comes after Phoenix and before Athyra, Athyra is the first book (publishing-order) that mentions the missing finger.

    Gail @ 36: actually, the second Amber series, as you noted, comes AFTER Mr. Brust started writing about Vlad and his jewelry, so if anyone is ripping off anyone there, I do believe this time it was Mr. Zelazny did the borrowing. Not that I think Mr. Brust would MIND if Mr. Zelazny wanted to borrow a concept, but it is annoying when people assume something without checking something so simple as a copyright date to confirm their wacky theories.

  40. Dzur precedes Jhegaala publishedcally, not chronologically.

  41. I didn’t fine Merlin’s part of the tale nearly as interesting as Corwin’s. I still re-read Corwin’s adventures every year or so, Merlin’s not so much.

  42. fine = find, of course.

  43. @skzb D’oh! My humble apologies. Frakir is a rip-off of Spellbreaker. Settled.

  44. corwin

    Um, no. Sorry to pick nits. I am not convinced that Frakir is a rip-off; I’m just saying Spellbreaker came first. Exactly where God, um, I mean Roger got his ideas I cannot say, but I certainly wouldn’t assume that one came from my work. I merely object to the idea that I stole that from him. No. I didn’t. I stole tons of OTHER stuff from him (and Lieber, and Moorcock), but not that. 🙂

  45. At least you didn’t steal from Tolkien. Authors writing a story that is based on:
    – starting at a small community
    – being visited by a well known but yet mysterious old man
    – have to deal with a magical thingy
    – have to deal with an evil demi-god type lord who in some way has some kind of history with the magical thingy
    – go on a quest involving some sort of man’s man, dwarf/elf.
    – climax with killing the evil demi-go type lord by some means of the magical thingy

    Shit me no end.

  46. @47

    Not for nothing but imo tolkien is overrated. I know this will send many people into a foaming at the mouth nerd frenzy but that’s just that way I feel. He was a good writer but there are people that do it better. He was great because of the world he created in such detail but the true wizardry in writing has always been dialoge for me.
    It’s a bit hard to not write something that you could compare in someway to the things he wrote about because most fantasy is based on the same basic plots. It’s like going to the opera: Girl meets boy, girl leaves boy, girl dies (or boy kills girl) opera over, same basic plot. You can find similaritys in almost anything or anyone if you realy want to bad enough but a good book isn’t about the first ten and last ten pages, it’s about all those pages in between. It’s about the journey! As far “stealing” goes? Copying is the greatest form of flattery. Great ideas spawn great ideas and as long as it isn’t flagrant plagarism then it should be fine imo. I mean hell, those points you listed could concievably refer to almost every Conan book ever written! lol.

  47. @48

    I love Tolkien’s works but most people don’t and those who froth at the mouth based on yours and other POV need to get over themselves.

    In terms of breaking the formulaic mold and how easy it is. I agree, its not easy but not impossible. I mean, the Taltos series is a screaming example of how it can be done.

    Another thing that can shit me with authors is when there protagonist’s political views are a blatent and explicit mirror of themselves. I’m talking about the Sword of Truth series. I simply cannot stomach reading any more of that man’s books – and this is even when I actually agree with about 80 per cent of what he preaches!

    Yes indeed, copying is the greates form of flattery and Steve has done so in two occasion. Saying that, I refuse to read any author’s works with are based on a “flattery” of Steve. It would feel dirty and wrong.

  48. “I love Tolkien’s works but most people don’t …”

    I…would disagree with that statement heavily. So would the number of Tolkien book sales. I also never said I did not like him, I simply said I thought he was overrated.

    “Yes indeed, copying is the greates form of flattery and Steve has done so in two occasion. Saying that, I refuse to read any author’s works with are based on a “flattery” of Steve. It would feel dirty and wrong.”

    Hmmm, well that’s a shame. I read SKZB’s ‘Khaavren Romances’ and enjoyed them a great deal, I thought ‘To Reign in Hell’ was brilliant and imo one of his best works. At no time reading these books did I feel “Dirty or wrong”. In fact I have the quote of God being a sore loser in one of my message board names which sometimes causes uproar that I am a Satanist. /sigh

    Yes, SKZB broke the mold so to speak with his Dragearen world but that is one of the reasons I love his writing! If you try and compare all writers to one of the top ten authors of all time and not read them unless in your opinion they haven’t “borrowed” anything, then I think you will quickly run out of reading material, heh. See I would read Steve’s works ( I can call you Steve, eh?) regardless if he borrowed anything from another author or not because he has mastered dialoge and that is the end all be all number one writing talent imo. I don’t care if he read Dumas and said, “Ya know…I could do something neat with that…” He tips his hat in the right direction when the smoke clears and that is that.

    Just my two cents.

  49. schmwarf @49

    I completely agree with your comments about the Sword of Truth series. I rarely catch the political and religious overtones in books because I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. In this case, the author was so blatant that even my low class mind picked it up. I feel like I was made a fan of a pretty decent adventure, just to have some type of campaign commercial pushed in my face.

    What a bunch of crap!

  50. That being said, I think I should add:

    I don’t fancy myself to be a cultured or educated reader- I just dig fantasy.

  51. @skzb I was just kidding, actually, both on the podcast and now in the comments section of your website. So, forget everything, you’re great, Zelazny’s God, and now I’ll be going.

  52. corwin

    David @ 53: Some days it seems ya can’t win fer losin. 🙂

  53. I would agree with the critique of Tolkien for the most part. He created a great story in a wonderful world. But his writing was often like reading a dry world history text book.

    I have often wondered how wonderfully that story and world could have been written by Brust. Can you imagine…. Tolkien dictating the specifics of the world and the epic story to Mr. Brust. And then letting Brust use his story telling skills with that material?? I can. And I dare say it most likely would have been better.

    Don’t worry before you all start beating me about the head and neck for suggesting such blasphemy… All my other Tolkien Loving friends have already done so.. Although I still feel the pain, I still like to imagine .. What if?…

  54. @50

    I wasn’t clear. I don’t think the majority of people hate Tolkien works. But I think the majority of people haven’t read his works to fully appreciate them. Yes, in comparison to other works of fiction, he has sold a buckload. But that in no way means the majority of people in general have read him. Maybe the majority of fantasy readers.

    In terms of the flattery thing, I think you misread me. I would feel dirty if somebody “flattered” Steve, not the other way round. I have read the “Romances” and a bit of “Reign” and enjoyed both works. I’ll read anything from Steve that he borrowed from someone else!

    @52 I’m with you on the cultural and bookreading level.

    @55 I guess because I reading history is because I love the The Silmarillion makes the Lord of the Rings look soaking wet.

  55. just to clear this up, since it annoys me….ROGER ZELAZNY DID NOT WRITE THE MERLIN HALF OF THE AMBER SERIES!!!! it was written from his notes, either by his longtime girlfriend, Jane Lindskold or his son. For those of you who doubt me, read Corwin’s half, then read Merlin’s, then read one of Jane Lindskold’s novels. See the similarity?

    Zelazny had pages and books of notes on Corwin, leading on for centuries after the end of book 5. Lindskold or the son, intelligently, did not choose to continue with Corwin (how could she/he?), but took the Saved by the Bell Next Generation tactic…Merlin. While vaguely passing as Zelazny’s work, it is juvenile in comparison. The characters are underdeveloped, the plot twists ridiculous. And what about introducing new uncles (Amberites), with no warning? I think Corwin would have mentioned them, in his COMPLETE list of his siblings. Why were there no Tarots for them? The magic is stupid (standing in a room and waving your arms til something comes to you?) the weapons preposterous (Frakir is no Grayswandir, my friends). The whole thing is just DIFFERENT, enough to have given EVERY Zelazny reader i’ve ever met serious problems reading Merlin’s half. It took me four tries, spaced over 5 years, to get through Merlin’s half. Something’s just not right.

    And most importantly, my friends, would Zelazny have left Corwin in such a mess? Stranded (in effect), at the end of the world, not king of Amber, and in hypothetical possession of a universe of his own, but never tell us what happens to him? Really? Steve, would you do that to Vlad? Strand him on the edge of the void forever, and just ditch him for a newer model? I think not. Lindskold should have just published the notes.

  56. corwin

    My goodness, Amanda.

    In point of fact, yes, Roger wrote all the Merlin books. He was putting his wife through law school, starting with Sign of the Unicorn, and they were written well before he met Jane, and when Trent was too young to write.

    Yes, quality falls off noticeably, although there are moments in those that could only be Roger (“One damned thing after another” indeed!)

    Would I do that? If I needed the money, and could get it writing less than my best? God. I don’t know. I hope I never have to find out. That’s a test I don’t care to take.

  57. it still makes no sense…..i’ve read his other work. my favorite (besides the obvious) is “For a Breath I Tarry.” He’s…amazing. The God comment from above isn’t far off, in the terms of literary ability.

    The Merlin half…it doesn’t just fall off. It plummets. Dismally. I’ve been looking for an explanation for years, and that was always the most feasible. You don’t spend five books developing a character you love (as he so obviously did) and then leave him there. That’s not a cliffhangar, that’s outright abandonment. I went through Merlin (finally) specifically looking for Corwin’s whereabouts, but he’s not to be found.

    And you don’t all of a sudden lose your ability to write. Merlin is shitty. But I believe whoever wrote that knew him well enough to fake it. Just changing character perspectives, even whole world-views (i know, i know, Amber-centric vs. Chaos-centric is vastly different)…the writing style is so different it boggles the mind. Ah well. he’s dead now, and we can’t exactly ask him.

    I’ll keep looking.

  58. An example of who is writing best than less but does NOT need the money – George Lucas.

    For years he has been telling the press that he wants to do small independent films but his is STILL going back to old good things and turning into pieces of shit – ie, Clone Wars and Indy IV. Now I hear he’s doing a Star Wars TV series. He is a tired old man who can’t help himself tampering what were good things in the past.

  59. schmwarf@60
    I agree that there are several things George Lucas has done with his Star Wars franchise that I don’t like (even if it’s really Mike Celestino’s fault.)

    However, I’d like to say some things in favor of Indy IV. Yes, it was cheese. But sometimes even that artificial cheese spread can taste good.

    I think a lot of people missed the point of Indy IV. One of the biggest things people missed, which is my favorite part of the movie, was just WHY Indiana Jones was at ground zero during a nuclear blast.

    Many gamer geeks that I’ve known used to debate about Indiana Jones. They called his ability to get out of tough situations ‘unconscious probability manipulation.’ The debate went on until the question became “What would it take to kill Indiana Jones?” Some suggested that a nuclear blast would do it while others argued that even during a nuclear blast Indy would find something that would save him.

    George Lucas, throwing that into the movie, gave a wink to all those debating gamer geeks out there. It made the movie for me. 🙂

  60. Zelazny died in 1995, 4 years after Prince of Chaos was published. Jane Lindskold did complete two of his unfinished novels after his death, Donnerjack and Lord Demon. If you read them, the difference in style between them and the second Amber series should be obvious.

    I agree that Zelazny’s best stuff was his earlier work, but Amanda I disagree with your description of the second Amber series as shitty. Even at its nadir I find Zelazny’s work to be extraordinary, if somewhat less than his divine pinnacle.

    A brief stint of web research doesn’t turn up any supporting documentation, but I was under the impression that at some point in the early 80s Zelazny suffered a fairly serious heart attack, after which he was operating at diminished capacity.

  61. I just finished the Corwin half (of what you ask? have you read the posts above?), and while it definitely had its moments, I never really felt absorbed in it the way I have in other books. I’d recommend it, but I’m not convinced I’ll be re-reading it anytime soon. I’m also not certain how soon I’ll pick up the Merlin half.

    Let’s see, what else:
    -Gaiman’s Sandman vol 1-3, getting better as they go, so looking forward to reading Season of Mists in sequence. Still not what I would call necessarily ‘enjoyable’ reading though.
    -Jasper Fforde “The Eyre Affair” good fun so far. My first time with him, but I think he was recommend in these environs before.
    -goallineblitz is taking up way too much of my time
    (shameless referral link http://goallineblitz.com/game/signup.pl?ref=8362980)
    – really thinking about doing a Paarfi re-read. Am I the only one who feels like VoA is seriously under-rated? Anybody want to join in on a read-along?

  62. I think it’s unfair to say all of Zelazny’s best work was his earliest work. I positively love A Night in the Lonesome October, and that was published IIRC only a couple of years before his death.

  63. I like pie.

  64. So fellas, how’s the weather in College Station?

  65. corwin

    Rainy. So far, no more than that. Stay tuned. 🙂

  66. Speaking of Zelazny…

    I went into a used book store today and found two books that I might like.
    Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny
    The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

    The shocking thing to me is that I only spent $1.60 for both of them. Wow.

  67. Stephen, I just finished watching the first episode of Pushing Daisies and was wondering if you, possibly in collaboration with Paarfi, had ever considered writing a script for it?

  68. corwin

    Never even heard of it, I’m afraid. But I don’t think of myself as a script writer in any case.

  69. Pushing Daisies is a marvelous show which premiered last year, and was, sadly, interrupted by the writer’s strike. I’m looking forward to its return (10/1!). It’s funny, quirky, smart, and therefore, likely doomed. It’s from the same folks who did Wonderfalls a few years back, if you know of that one — and if not, I recommend it, too.

  70. _Doorways In The Sand_ is AWESOME! Wish my copy wasn’t falling apart. Hi from Winnipeg, Steve!

  71. corwin

    Hey there, Courtney!

  72. Not that I’m seriously picking nits, but isn’t this the 2nd Free-For-All #3? Perhaps it’s Free-For-All #3a, or Free-For-All #3 Revisited? Re-antimated? Re-gurgitated?

  73. The Right strikes back against the evil Wikipedia!

    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4120

Leave a Reply