Wednesday, October 27, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 77

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

by Steven R. Boyett

ArielI have mentioned the name of author Steve Boyett before, and that's definitely intentional. Any time this writer has a work appear in print, I'm always ready to jump at it as soon as possible.

There's a reason for this.

In the early 1980s, I was a young wannabe writer who was just getting his feet wet in the fantasy genre. I'd read Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Thieves' World ... the usual suspects. But then I noticed this book Ariel in my local book store.

Ariel was something different. It was something new, and from a new author.

How was it different? It wasn't just your same old fantasy told in a pseudo Medieval world. SPOILER ALERT: Ariel was a story told just a few years in the future in the real world, a world in which electricity and guns had stopped working and magic had appeared.

The writing was solid. The story was unique, at least at the time. The characters were interesting. And the plot was strong. All of this came together to make Steve Boyett one of my favorite novelists.

Boyett went on to publish another novel, then he just kind of disappeared.

He didn't really disappear, of course, but his novels were no longer showing up at book stores. Over the years I kept an eye open for his name, and from time to time it would pop up below the title of a short story or two in one anthology or another.

I didn't know what to think. Such a great writer, but where were his books?

Then, years and years later, Ariel was re-released, along with a new sequel, Elegy Beach. Ariel was back! And so was Boyett. Apparently he had not quit writing altogether, but life had taken him in other directions over the years. Nothing wrong with that. It happens to all of us.

But I was glad he was being published once more. Ariel really is one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. For me, as a very young fantasy fan in the early 1980s, Ariel was something unexpected and a nice change of pace for the more traditional fantasy stories I was reading at the time. It opened my eyes to different possibilities within the fantasy genre.

Up next: Swan Song

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