Sapokwski's Last Wish (why it was my suggestion for the TFF book-club)

Discussion in 'General Books' started by TirelessSeven, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    @Tamago, you asked for it.

    First of all, I'm a big fan. Love the themes of his books, particularly the way he puts his finger on how flawed and wonderful humanity is (as a species). The MC, Geralt has a unique perspective and is well placed to observe the best and worst people have to offer (sorry this is vague, trying not to have too many spoilers).

    They're definitely books for adults. He deals with a lot of complex issues like racism, sexism, sexuality, elitism, violence and so on, in interesting ways, without shying away from anything. That being said, the overriding theme (for me) was one of the all conquering love of family.

    I suggested The Last Wish because it's a collection of short stories with common themes, which make up a novel. The construction of the narrative is unusual and interesting. Also, it includes the first things he ever wrote about Geralt (the last being nearly 30 years later) and it's probably the best example I can think of in modern fantasy where you can see the writer improve over the course of 300 pages (or so).

    The first time I read these stories, I found the style (and quality) shifts between the sections extremely interesting. This was actually my main reason for suggesting this one. His novels are of consistently higher quality (imo), but this offers a little insight into the learning curve of a pro, and it's still damn good.

    @Tamago, if I was to pick something of his for you to read to maybe sway your opinion, I'd suggest a short story called A Little Sacrifice - I think it's a good summation of what he does best, and you won't waste a heap of time on it if you don't like it.
     
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  2. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    It's been a while since I read the book, and I've kind of held off reading too far into his main series because of waiting for translated editions to come out in English; but like you I was impressed with his writing, style and his character construction and motives and world setting.

    And that's a translated edition, not in the original language (which to me says that not only has he got good translators, but that the core writing is very solid to begin with)

    Fantasy has, through authors like this and GRRM, had several major series that have helped it breath the mature elements of fantasy. That's not to say that swashbuckling adventure stories are bad, worse or lesser; just that fantasy is enjoying a breadth and depth of variety in the market.


    I came to his stories through the game, though I have honestly never actually played that far into his games (mostly though lack of dedication on my part) and I've held off on the 3rd (I want a new graphics card to run the game so that it visually looks its best or near so).
     
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  3. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    It's pretty incredible how the translation thing works. I first started to wonder about it after trying to read Don Quixote when I was in my teens. I still haven't been able to get through it after several attempts (years apart). I've always wondered whether it was an issue with the translation (although I've tried two different ones), but not enough to actually learn Spanish...

    Like most from English speaking countries, I haven't bothered to learn any other language, except a bit of German in high school (which means, I could probably book a hotel room in Berlin if I tried, but little else). It's great that more and more works are being translated into English, but I always wonder if it's even possible to capture every nuance of the original. It can't be, can it?

    I read an article a while back, where Sapkowski was asked how much licence he allowed his translators and which he thought were his best (closest to the Polish version). I was quite surprised when he said the 'English one' wasn't his favourite. It made me wonder what he feels is missing from the English versions. He liked the 'czech one' best. Maybe it's a little closer to Polish in terms of syntax? Of course, I'm only guessing.

    I came to these books through the games as well, same as a lot of native English speakers, I think. Actually, I avoided them for a long time because I thought they were written as a kind of suppliment to the games and those kind of books are usually... not the best. That being said, I loved the games - 2 and 3 anyway, didn't play the first one. The Witcher 3 is my favourite video game ever - totally wait to get the good graphics card, it'll be worth it - although I only played it on the x-box (I just can't justify the kind of money it costs for a decent gaming pc). Some of the writing in it, particularly the humour, is top drawer for the medium and I only had a few gripes with the character direction etc. Obviously nothing on the books though.

    I think fantasy has some of the best writers currently, of any genre. We're pretty spoiled for choice, no matter what sub-genre we prefer. I think you'd struggle at the moment to find better quality than Sapkowski, Martin, Hobb (I could add a few others to this list) in general fiction. I realise it's not a competition. My point is, I think fantasy has lost it's lesser than tag in the last 15 (or so) years. I think people like Asimov helped sci-fi gain (mainstream) acceptance much earlier - even though I tend not to identify fantasy and sci-fi as being very different (unless it's hard sci-fi).
     
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  4. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    Your opinions make me want to read his works! Well, I shall try what you've recommended to me @TirelessSeven as soon as I can get some time. I will come back with a proper opinion later, but I must say, I am quite impressed with your opinions.

    Also, you said this:
    Two things:
    1. I am not sure if the Fantasy genre has the best writers. I haven't read enough, I suppose, from enough/many genres to make such a bold statement. However, I acknowledge that Fantasy and Sci-Fi are the two most exploited genres nowadays. No, even more than that, there are a lot of authors in this area that are rising and to good reason too. I like them. However, I would say there are also other genres -or rather, authors that write in other genres that are quite marvellous. I'm thinking of authors such as Zafon and Saramago. But then again, you didn't say that Fantasy authors are the best best, but some of the best. I just felt I should mention it, lol. As all genres, it has its ups and downs and there are authors in all levels of quality. But people, both writers and readers, seem more and more drawn to these two genres nowadays, and their fabulous alternatives (such as dystopias).

    2. A question, rather, why would you say that
    Why would you say that? I tend to see them very differently, but I'm sure I haven't read enough therefore my opinion should not be taken at face value. But I tend to differentiate them quite a lot all the time. :eek:
     
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  5. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Do you know how to ;
    Sword fight in different disciplines and the move names of those disciplines;
    Smith a horse shoe, sword or plate armour
    How far and fast different breeds of horse are
    The maximum weight load of a dragon
    How magic works
    etc...
    What about a Warp Drive do you know how th science for that works?

    Basically fantasy and sci-fi both deal in a lot of world elements that the average reader knows nothing what so ever about. Basically the super techno sci-fi is identical to magic because both require the author to write out a visual description of the events and how they affect the world around them. They require the writer to build their world before the reader so that later on the reader has some idea for how different thing work within that world.

    The reader needs stories and character, the world around them doesn't matter so much so long as its described well.


    Thus fantasy and sci-fi really are very similar.
     
  6. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    @Tamago. Yeah, I did say some of the best. That being said, I didn't recognise the names of either of the non-fantasy authors you mentioned - I had to google them. Honestly laughed out loud when I read that Zafon is one of the most widely read authors on the planet and Saramago won the nobel prize in lit...
    Quite frankly, I'm embarassed and it probably tells you everything you need to know about my pro-fantasy bias. And my tendency toward tabloidesque exaggeration.

    I think it's true. When you take away hard sci-fi (which by definition puts an emphasis on scientific accuracy and isn't like fantasy at all), what do you have? You could write a sci-fi about a race of creepy bug people. You could write a fantasy about a race of creepy bug people. One of the main differences in those stories would be that: In the sci-fi, they would be chasing humans through the metal corridors of space ships, and in the fantasy they would be chasing humans through, I dunno... underground tunnels or burrows. It's the same picture, painted differently.

    Okay, that example is a bit simplistic, but I think authors have been mixing these genres for a long time. There are a lot of sci-fi stories which incorporate fantasy elements and vice versa.

    I was half-way through my message when @Overread posted. Couldn't agree more with this.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Even hard sci-fi is the same; it just puts more emphasis on the attempted accuracy and detail of its facts (ergo that's real warp theory not just "its a warp drive it goes super fast")
     
  8. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    I know what you mean, but what's the fantasy equivalent of real warp theory?

    You can say: science as we know it - or more accurately - science as we believe it to be.
    This doesn't work for magic.

    Sidenote: after writing the above, I thought I'd google hard fantasy... don't know what I was expecting, but apparently there is a hard fantasy genre o_O. It appears my ignorance knows no bounds.

    Update: I just read the wikipedia on hard sci-fi and I stand by my earier opinions about there being no equivalent in fantasy to hard sci-fi. And the one about my ignorance.
     
  9. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    Oh, I see. So that’s what you mean. I understand. I was thinking that when Sci-Fi is concerned there are made certain assumptions that have at least some real life accuracy and expectance for the future, whilst Fantasy uses only unreal aspects of reality (such as mythical creatures and the such). Which makes them very different in my head. But I do see where you’re going with that argument and I do agree.

    Well, it’s not such a big of a deal, I am sure I am the less cultured one when it comes to Fantasy and Sci-Fi because I haven’t read THAT much. I am a very general reader, I like reading a bit of everything:) .

    My husband is very much into YA dystopian- Sci-Fi -Fantasy and reads a lot of works in that area. I’m more of a classic, though, I guess. I like things like HP more or Philip K Dick. Just “classic” examples:eek:.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    TirelessSeven I would say the fantasy equivalent would be things like smithing or other older technologies. Granted in theory they are not as "complex" as warp theories and such; but to the average person they really have no clue. So they are just as mysterious; however I would say a lot of older technology is often more visually apparent whilst a lot of warp theories and such are often very mathematics focused.

    But yes hard-sci-fi is a bit on its own, however it shouldn't get in the way of the story.
     
  11. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    @Overread Actually, I think that's right (now that you've said it). The mathematics focus is the main (probably only) point of difference in these stories.

    It's a good way to be. I think the book-club will broaden my reading horizons.