Thursday, November 5, 2009

Slithy Toves and Harry Dresden

I once memorized Jabberwocky in it's entirety for a test grade in school.  I also memorized and then had to recite the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.  I still don't know what these assignments were supposed to do to help me on my way in the world.  I know what they actually did do, which was to create in me a deep dislike for reading anything not easily pronounced.

So, you think, what's the big deal?  Well, I like to read, and it's science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural that I crave.  Supernatural stories are pretty easy.  Aside from the odd ancient vampire who was once a member of the aristocracy or an Egyptian high priestess, the names are fairly straightforward.  Sci-Fi names are a bit trickier, but unless you're trying to actually understand Wookie or Klingon, you can usually muddle through.  Then there's Fantasy.  Oh. My. God.

Why, why, why must all the names in Fantasy novels be utterly impossible to pronounce unless you actually grew up in the world in the book?  Hmmmm?  Anyone have an answer?  I have picked up books, read the jackets, and put them down almost instantly because I could only mange every fifth word.  Words like "the" and "a" and usually "sword".  And what is with the overuse of punctuation?  Ins'ert'ing  random apos'tro'phes or the exce-ssive use of hy-phens does not make me want to keep reading.  And do not even get me started on letter combinations that just do not even work in the English language.  Don't call your new land Ghar'qk because it looks cool.  Call it something my brain can say...Gark, or Hark or, oh, I have no idea, which is the whole problem.

Now, not all fantasy novels suffer from the pitfalls of "Not English".  There's a certain wizard out there with a wholly fleshed out urban fantasy world full of all manner of fantasy beastie and I can pronounce every word.  Harry Dresden.  Rolls right off the tongue. No unnecessary punctuation or weird letter combinations.  That's why I've read ever book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files and cannot wait for the next in the series.  Okay, that and the desire to see just how much trouble Harry manages to find in the next book.  If only I could say the same thing about the book I just put down.  And no, I won't tell you what it was called.  Actually, I can't because in truth I flung the stupid thing across the living room in frustration and it's now firmly wedged behind the couch.  Oops.

To'Tal F-An Gir'L Total Fan Girl

4 comments:

  1. Though it can work if the author is good at made up languages after reading Anetham so of Neal Stephensons made up words did stick eg "Speelycaptor" for video camera

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  2. I haven't found one that works for me....should I be checking out Anetham? Or will I be throwing that across the room too?

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  3. See, I have to disagree - Jabberwocky has to remain my favourite poem.

    Still, you've hit the nail on the head regarding The Dresden Files. Simple, quick and fun. And yet somehow Jim Butcher manages to write a quality book isntead of reaching into the depths of depravity and ineptitude that mark so much of modern genre work.

    Have you tried Pratchett? His stuff is fairly easy to pronounce as weell.

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  4. You used that funny English spelling of "favorite" so of course you like Jabberwocky ;) Actually, I don't mind that one as much. Its mainly the crazy names that fantasy authors adore that I just can't stomach. Butcher has a fantasy series "Codex Alera" that I've been thinking about trying since Dresden is so darn good. And, on your suggestion I will try Pratchett...anything in particular that you would pick up as a first read??

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