Thursday, October 28, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 78

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

Swan Song
by Robert R. McCammon

Swan SongIn the annals of history, there have been many great wars. Ongoing today is the Mac vs. PC war. Back in the early 1980s, there was the Atari vs. Intellivision war. Then there's one more war not so well known.

It's The Stand vs. Swan Song war.

Both are lengthy post-apocalyptic novels. Both were written by horror novelists. Both were published during the heyday of modern horror fiction. And both are pretty darn good.

If you're a horror fan, or even if you're not, you've heard of Stephen King, the author of The Stand. But you might not have heard of Robert McCammon, author of Swan Song.

McCammon was relatively well known back in the 1980s, then he sort of seemed to disappear for a while. He's been back writing and publishing for a few years now, and I'm thankful for that. I always liked McCammon and his writing.

What is Swan Song about? Let's just say the cold war is still going on (hey, this was published in the '80s, after all) and things have gone from bad to worse as the bombs begin to fall. This novel is more than just a story about the survivors of a nuclear war, however. "The Man With the Scarlet Eye" is about and he's searching for something. And then there's Sue Wanda, also known as Swan, who has special abilities that allow her to do seemingly magical things with plants.

Yes, that tells you next to nothing. That's intentional. You need to read the book to realize just how good it is.

One thing Swan Song showed me was how authors could tackle somewhat similar stories with somewhat similar plots and in similar formats, while still making everything different from one another.

And what side do I come down on in The Stand vs. Swan Song debate? I go back and forth. It depends upon my mood. Sorry.

Up next: Shogun

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought both the Stand and Swan Song were a bit long. I may have liked teh STand a touch better, although in general I prefer McCammon's stuff to King's. McCammon really did some balls to the wall horror stuff.