Today, I’m thrilled to welcome author Andrew Q. Gordon to my website. He shares his five favorite fantasy and science fiction worlds. After you’ve checked them out, say hi in the comments and share your own favorite literary worlds!
1) Middle-Earth: J.R.R. Tolkien may not have created the idea of world building in epic fantasy, but he is certainly one of the first names people think of when you say world building. I was 12 when my mother brought home the Fellowship of the Ring. I was so engaged my parents needed the jaws of life to get me away from the book. When I first read The Lord of Rings, there were no movies to taint my view of the Shire, Rivendell, Gondor, or the Misty Mountains. I had to ‘see’ those places in my mind. Decades later, I still see my vision of Middle-Earth and not Peter Jackson’s.
There is a deep history that seeps from the pages of the LOTR because Tolkien wrote an entire history for Middle-Earth before he finished the books. There is no info dump of backstory. Instead, it’s sprinkled throughout the books in a way that makes you want to get lost in this amazing world.
2) The Land: Another of my childhood favorites – Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Although Donaldson followed the Tolkien playbook of an epic quest stretched over a trilogy, this was nothing like LOTR. There is so much to love about Donaldson’s world –the places, the beings, the people, and lore. Loric’s Krill, the Staff of Law, Berek Halfhand, the Bloodguard, Forestrals, and of course Lord Foul.
I’ll admit I wasn’t as fond of the Last Chronicles as I was of the First and Second, but Donaldson did use the last set of books to give us a more detailed look at the history of the Land. He used these pages to give depth to people and things we read about in passing in the first two books.
3) The Eternal Champion Universe. This is probably cheating because Michael Moorcock didn’t create one world for his champions (Corwin, Dorian Hawkmoon, Elric of Melnibone and others). Despite that, there is a common thread that ties them all together. Each of the heroes is a different aspect of the Eternal Champion. What makes this universe so brilliant is each champion is unique. This isn’t the same character transported across worlds. Corwin is nothing like Elric who isn’t like Dorian.
At one point, Moorcock brings the various champions together for a series and there is no confusion. Each character is distinct and defined. It is really hard to break this ‘world’ down because it is so diverse, but I remember how much I loved this author and his vision.
4) Amber: Roger Zelazny’s Amber. Amber is the one true world. Every other place is a ‘Shadow’ of Amber. The princes of Amber can move through the Shadows and create new worlds as they move. As many others will opine, the first five books in the series – commonly referred to as Corwin Cycle – were better than the second five books – the Merlin Cycle. The series also ended up feeling unfinished by Zelazny’s untimely death.
Zelazny wove many of the myths of Earth into the story arc, offering his own unique explanation on how they came to be. The Pattern, Court of Chaos, Logrus and how royalty walked the Shadows made this a must-read series.
5) Valdemar (Or for the true nerds, Velgarth): This one has a special place for me. When I picked up Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn, the first book in The Last Herald Mage series, I had no idea Vanyel, the main character, was gay. It was high fantasy, it had magic, it was my kind of book. That Vanyel, the savior and not some throw away side character or evil maniac bent on destroying the world, made it special.
Lackey’s stories go backward and forward through her timeline. The way she seamlessly connects the dots, explains things we read about in one book by showing us the lives of new characters in other series was masterful. As with all things, there were books I enjoyed more than others, but the entire universe is magnificent. Although Valdemar is a kingdom and reads like a magical medieval nation, the Shin’a’in and Tayledras draw there heavily on Native American culture. Reading the entire library of her books you will see elements from many of Earth’s cultures and some that have no resemblance to anything we know. All in all, this is really magical world and one I could easily move to and be happy. (Assuming I got to give myself great power in the transition, of course.)
Honorable mentions: David Edding’s Belgariad Universe; Pern, by Anne McCaffery; The World of The Riddle Mater of Hed, Patricia A. McKillip; Dune, by Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov’s vision of the Milky Way.
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write. Andrew’s imagination has helped him create works of high fantasy, paranormal thrills and touch of the futuristic. To find out more about Andrew, follow him on his website or on Facebook (links below).
You can sign up for his monthly newsletter and get a copy of The Last Grand Master, Book One in the Champion of the Gods series: http://aqgsignups.getresponsepages.com