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Friday, September 7, 2012

Introducing Curated Fantasy Books


Curated Fantasy Books was founded by a knowledgeable enthusiast with a lifelong love of good books. The website is dedicated to providing readers with the best Fantasy reading, selected by an expert Curator and organized by specific category. To offer a bit more on what Curated Fantasy Books has to offer, here is Fantasy Curator Cat Rambo with a few words she would like to share:

When I was first approached about working on the Curated Fantasy Books site, it was both exciting and daunting. While I’ve been reading fantasy works for a number of decades and published a number of fantasy short stories and collections, I knew I’d need to do a lot of research.

The first step was coming up with the categories. After some amount of back and forth, we arrived at these: epic, urban, Arthurian, steampunk, dark fantasy, superhero, literary, historical, and anthologies. I had to argue a bit for the superhero category, but it’s one that’s near and dear to my heart, and I was able to find plenty of titles in that vein to back the notion up, including several of my all-time favorite books, such as Minister Faust’s amazing From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain.

Some surprised me. I knew there were plenty of Arthurian fantasies, but I had no idea how many until I started looking. Nor did I realize how far they ranged in time – from early history up to several centuries in the future. I’d thought about international fantasy as well, but in the end, I ended up sorting those into the different categories – which meant I was satisfied that we had a good representation of writing from outside America and Great Britain.

One of my guideposts in making selections were the award lists from the past. I looked at the lists of winners from the World Fantasy Awards, the Hugos and the Nebulas. With the latter two I had the additional task of winnowing out the fantasy from the SF. Over the course of going through those, my own “to-read” list swelled enormously – it’s going to take me a decade to wade through all the titles that looked appealing.

My spreadsheet grew, and grew, and grew as I worked. I kept finding old favorites and new delights. I asked every fantasy reader I knew what they’d recommend, and that led to lively Facebook conversations that only added to the list. One of the genres where suggestions from others were particularly useful was steampunk, and I was able to include not just current examples of the genres but some of the works that most influenced it, such as Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Michael Moorcock’s The Warlord of the Air. I even found some gems I hadn’t known about, such as Edward S. Ellis’ The Steam Man of the Prairies.

I’m pleased with how Curated Fantasy Books turned out. For a reader new to fantasy, the website should prove an excellent guide to reading in the genre, while for longtime fans, there should be new and interesting finds among the longtime favorites.

Cat Rambo, Fantasy Curator

ABOUT CAT RAMBO:

Cat Rambo is an avid, long-time fantasy reader and the former fiction editor of Fantasy Magazine. She currently writes reviews and conducts interviews for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Publishers Weekly. She also works as a volunteer for the Clarion West Writing Program.

Cat loves to write short stories, with over a hundred short stories published including appearances in Asimov's Sci-Fi Magazine, Weird Tales, Clarkesworld, and Tor.com. Her stories have been published in two collections: Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Midnight and The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories, with a third, Near and Far, on the way this fall via Hydra House. She has a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame, and separate MA’s from both Johns Hopkins and Indiana University.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks

M. R. Mathias said...

Unfortunately some of the best fantasy novels ever written are not on your lists. (Including mine. lol...Sarcasm folks)

The simple fact is that there are more fantasy novels today than you could possibly manage with just a few people. AND your opinion, is just "your" opinion.

Skim this list and ask yourself why none of these novels are on yours? http://goo.gl/maqJi After all this is the "Highest Rated Epic Fantasy" list at the number one or two bookseller on the entire planet.

This would be a fantastic idea if all of the books were over 5 years old and most likely not in a modern eReader Top 100 somewhere. It is an eReader/cell/tablet world now and each seller already has lists in all the mentioned sub cats for us to look through.

I will say this. Its nice to see that you are going beyond five years back. Many great fantasy novels over 5 years old missed the eBook take off. Some of them are fantastic.

Nadine said...

Ever since they contacted me, I've been following the development of the site with some excitement and some scepticism.

I do believe that a recommendation by a human being - even if they've only read a limited amount of books (who can read all the books?) - is worth more than a computer-generated one.

But so far, I'm not really sure where exactly the page is going and there are a lot of books missing from the lists. I'm sure it's a work in progress and will continue to visit the page.

Cat Rambo said...

M.R. Mathias - I looked at that link, and there's actually quite a bit of overlap.

In the course of compiling my list, I looked at books from the major award lists going back to the beginning, a number of best of lists from a variety of sites (including Goodreads and Amazon (ironically enough, including the list you point to)), talked to a number of fellow F&SF writers and readers about their favorites, and drew of my knowledge from (literally) four decades of avid reading in the field. No list is going to be perfect, but I'm genuinely pleased with the result, and think it's among the best versions of the available lists. :)

Nadine - I believe I'll have a chance to update the site at some point in the future, and I happily welcome suggestions for amendments.

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