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(Recommended Reading)

I have always loved books.

In fact, the bulk of my boxes during my last move were full of books, to the dismay of the friends and family members who agreed to help me move. If only all novels, past, present, and future, could be ported to digital format and downloaded to my handy PDA, I wouldn't have such a hard time finding moving buddies. I would, of course, keep my collection of art books, graphic novels, and role playing books in their original paper form, but everything else would definitely go into my handheld.

Until that happy day arrives, however, here are some of my favorite reads in plain old paper.


  1. Drawing References and Guides
  2. Science Fiction
  3. Cyberpunk
  4. Fantasy
  5. Light Fantasy
  6. Urban Fantasy
  7. Regency
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"When taken step by step and part by part, anatomy for the artist is not as inscrutable as one might suppose. In fact, like everything else, 'it's simple when you know how.' Then knowing how becomes the problem." -- Drawing the Head and Figure (Jack Hamm)

Let's face it, not everyone is born instantly gifted with the ability to draw or paint everything they see. Most of us need a bit of help (as well as a LOT of practice). There is no substitute for an honest-to-goodness studio class, but for those of us with uncooperative schedules (I was too swamped with AP classes in high school to take more than the basic Art 2-D), self-instruction is the only way to go.

Here are some of the books that have helped me, past and present. (Read my brief reviews of each of these books at the Illuminator's Guildhouse)

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"If only we could have talked to you, the hive-queen said in Ender's words. But since it could not be, we ask only this: that you remember us, not as enemies, but as tragic sisters, changed into a foul shape by Fate or God or Evolution." -- Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

Science fiction authors ask the important question, "What if...?"

We should all be so inquisitive.

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"Love is the Aphrodite clipjoint, step in and get taken." -- Cassandra, from Clipjoint (Wilhelmina Baird)

There are, of course, many different sub-genres which fall beneath the heading of "Science Fiction," but one of the most recent, and, incidentally, one of my favorites, is Cyberpunk.

The cyberpunk world is not that of the classic Star Wars type space epic; rather, it is the chaotic, backstreet, Lowtown, underworld of Bladerunner. The protagonists are often morally nebulous, capable of great violence or questionable actions, yet inevitably, they are forced by fate to take up the electronic sword of a cybernetic St. George in order to slay the megacorp dragons that seem to abound in the works of this genre.

Bioengineered mutants, cyborg assassins, Orbital Yakuza, hackers galore, and of course--Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll...

Ya gotta love it.

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'"I see," said the giant, "that you have performed every task. You have traveled far and seen much, and learned the secrets of earth, sea, and sky. Yet there is one secret remaining which you do not know."' Child of Saturn (Teresa Edgerton)

Who can resist the lure of high fantasy?

The High Kings, the Magikal Beasts, the Grande Wizards, the Slumbering Wyrms--Part and parcel of the fantasy genre. This is the realm of magical duels and legendary quests; the way the world would be if Disney had anything to say about it.

Sit back and pick a spell, any spell...

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"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." -- Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride (William Goldman)

What do you get when you mix fantasy with a slightly skewed sense of humor and a touch of satire?

Why, something a lot like Piers Anthony's Xanth series, or, of course, Goldman's Princess Bride.

Long live the ridiculous--and little dragons named Gleep.

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"I don't date corpses. A girl's got to have some standards." --Anita Blake, from Circus of the Damned (Laurel K. Hamilton)

Werewolves and vampires and witches, Oh My! And they're in YOUR town.

At least, that seems to be the case in most urban fantasies, where the ordinary world is inhabited by some rather extraordinary beings. Like race car-driving elves. Or vampire slayers (Yeah, like Buffy) who moonlight as zombie animators. Or good witches with vampire boyfriends and a yen to fix supernatural disasters.

Consider the possibilities....

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"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." -- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Anyone in want of witty repartee, social intrigue, and an overall lightness of heart need look no further than the Regency aisle of their local book store.

In the typical Regency, lords and ladies traipse through the pages, trading witty barbs, stolen kisses, and ultimately (since these ARE technically romances) wedding vows. These are writings inspired by the era of Jane Austen, when the Prince Regent sat upon England's throne, Napoleon was still (off and on) a threat, and the peerage flocked to London every spring for the Marriage Mart.

Regencies tell a fanciful, frothy version of what was, in reality, a rather practical business--that of finding a mate (invariably from one's own class, or slightly higher, if possible, with a secure fortune, a title, and several estates, to boot)--but who cares, as long as we are smiling at the finale?

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