Alpha Heroes is a blog dedicated to romantic fiction -- the genre, the writers, the heroes, the heroines, and above all, the stories. There's just something about these books that I find really satisfying.
But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Occasionally I get a little burned out on romance, even given the wide variety between vampires, werewolves, rakes, pirates and moguls.
When that happens, I turn to my back-up plan, which almost always turns out to be something from the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section.
They're not so different. I don't claim to be a literary expert, but it seems pretty obvious that they come from the same root, the chivalric tales that were popularized in Eleanor of Aquitaine's court. Not surprisingly, I love medieval romances and I love the swords-and-sorcery flavor of high fantasy. You nearly always find similar themes of good vs. evil, honor vs. villainy, and sometimes you even get a love story.
The main difference is generally that the relationship and love story, if there is one, is not the main focus of the book -- instead there are battles and politics and double-crosses; romances might be more of a plot element than the main point. And you aren't by any means guaranteed a happily ever after.
What I love about good fantasy is the way it exercises my imagination. Alternate histories like Jacqueline Carey's* or Guy Gavriel Kay's; worlds that are basically familiar but with brilliant twists, like Melanie Rawn's Sunrunners, or CL Wilson's Fading Lands -- they get me daydreaming about... I don't know, possibilities. Or impossibilities, perhaps, but nevertheless, they take me out of the everyday in a way that romance usually does not. (Note: links go the first book of a series, or in Kay's case, just one of my favorites).
Good sci-fi/fantasy is more than escapism. If I had to reduce it to a soundbyte, I'd say that really good sci-fi/fantasy poses questions about human nature: what if our environment was wildly different from what we know? What are the constants of society, of the individual, of morality? and what would flow and change? How would YOU be different? What if we had powers that we only dream of? What role does technology play?
Some of my favorite fantasy authors are listed above. Additionally, I have enjoyed Robert Silverberg, Sara Douglass (wow, isn't that some gorgeous artwork on her landing page??), Katheryn Kurtz's Deryni books, Roger Zelazny, and Juliet Marillier. Lately I've been reading a lot of SM Stirling-- watch for a review before too long on his Emberverse I trilogy.
Who are your favorite science fiction and fantasy authors?
*And speaking of Carey, don't forget, today is your last day to sign up for the giveaway!