Monday, October 31, 2016

Ten utterly brilliant novels that have one fatal flaw

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All the Birds in the Sky. She’s the organizer of the Writers With Drinks reading series, and she was a founding editor of io9, a website about science fiction, science and futurism. In 2015 she consulted some book boffins for a list of top novels that are marred by a fatal flaw. Aidan Moher's suggestion:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is my favorite novel. It wrenched from science fiction’s arms as a child and set me on a path through the many wondrous worlds that secondary world fantasy offers. It shaped me as a reader and a writer, but, dammit if Tolkien didn’t leave a big female-shaped hole in that novel. It feels like there’s a cast of thousands (thirteen dwarfs, one hobbit, and a wizard, actually), but Tolkien’s story about a merry band of dwarfs adventuring to slay a dragon and save their home was a sausugefest through and through. You can discount it as a product of its time, but, as we all know, women have always fought. You can be sure that when I’m reading The Hobbit to my daughter in a few years, eight or nine of those dwarfs are going to switch gender—and I’ll have a lot of fun explaining to her that dwarf women have beards, too!

(This is actually one of the few instance where I applaud Peter Jackson’s ham-fisted adaptation of the novel. He may have stomped on the spirit of the book, but introducing several female characters was an important evolution for a 21st century narrative.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hobbit appears on Julie Kagawa's top ten list of dragons in fiction, Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven favorite fictional shopaholics, Derek Landy's top ten list of villains in children's books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best beards in literature and ten of the best riddles in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue