So someone on twitter linked to this little test where you could see how many of the past century’s best fantasy authors that you had read. The list had been compiled on Redit and had been turned into this list/test thing on listchallenges.com. You can find it here if you want to take it your self.
So as I looked the authors up to check if I had read anything by them I noticed two things. A huge majority of the 100 were men and almost all of them were caucasian. And that got my thinking, are these white men really the best fantasy writers of the past century? Of course I would expect there to be more men than women (the past being what it is) and I would also expect there to be mainly white people on there (again biases). But really just one person of colour on the whole darn list?
I don’t know who my 100 best fantasy authors of the past century list would look but I am pretty sure it would be different. I had read 29 of the authors on the list, which I don’t think is half bad. At least two of the people I had read on this list had written books I didn’t like so that pushes it down to 25-27… I am of course not American and I am guessing this is primarily an American list. That means that authors who write children’s books, who are not popular in Scandinavia, I have not read their books and I probably never will.
Some people I did miss on this list are: Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising) and Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking and Mio, My Son) – from the top of my head, I am sure I will think of more.
I am also quite sure that my list would have a lot of Europeans on the list, that most Americans have never heard of because they have not been translated.
I was surprised at how many on this list I had never heard of. And how many of them who really needed new covers on their books I were to ever pick them up. Gosh many of those older epic fantasy books looks bad. No wonder the genre has a shabby reputations if that is the covers people see. I am so happy that is changing.
I was very happy to see the following on this list: Marion Zimmer Bradley, N. K. Jemisin, Anne McCaffery, Tamora Pierce… Do you see a trend in those? Yeah they are all women and they all write strong really capable female characters and a lot of their characters were my role models growing up. I think Pierce and Bradley changed my life. Bradley made me question the religion I was spoon feed in school and Pierce made me think that it was ok not to be a girly girl. So I was very happy those two were on the list. I did a list of “25 Urban Fantasy Books that I recommend” not too long ago, perhaps I should try the same with epic fantasy? But not tonight.
EDIT: I am no longer happy that Marion Zimmer Bradley is on the list, after knowing what she has done (child rape and abuse). It sickens me to think off. I am removing my recomendations of her books. I do not think I could ever again enjoy them.
What the list made me want to do is seek out some of those authors whom I have not read anything by yet and try to pick up one of their books or perhaps a shorter work. Perhaps that is the project for next year, read classic fantasy and science fiction?