Danie Ware is the publicist and event organiser for cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet. She has worked closely with a wide-range of genre authors and has been immersed in the science-fiction and fantasy community for the past decade. An early adopter of blogging, social media and a familiar face at conventions, she appears on panels as an expert on genre marketing and retailing.
by Danie Ware
The Saga of the Exiles – Julian May
Defying all categorisation and genre boundaries, to me, these are one of the ultimate examples of what Speculative Fiction should really be – distinctive, ground-breaking, proud to stand up and do something different. I love these books, a story that jumps reality, a huge cast of characters, an intertwining of complex plotlines pulling in politics, technology, morality, mythology… their scope is vast and glorious. I can’t pretend to be able to emulate them – but their shamelessness has always stuck with me.
Ubik – Philip K Dick
In our gaming days, we read a lot of classic CyberPunk – we built a dice-driven technotemple out of the concepts explored by Neuromancer, Do Androids Dream, Hardwired, Snow Crash, Altered Carbon… I’m sure you know the list. But there was another thread, one both elusive and pervasive, that dealt with the nature of reality. Not just the Matrix idea of being within or without the program, but something less binary and subtler, a pattern driven by sheer will and a powerful, if flawed, personality.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Stephen Donaldson
Somewhere in the original draft of Endgame, Ecko actually said, ‘I’m a social leper, outcast, unclean’. It didn’t make the final cut, but from the moment The Illearth War was leant to me at fourteen years old, the concept of the reluctant hero, fighting against what he was called to do, stayed with me. What happens if you do get called from your life into something utterly impossible? How do you explain it to yourself? What happens if you’re told you have to fulfil prophecy – and you don’t want to? What happens if you refuse?
The Death of Grass – John Christopher
Inspiration more as concept than content – the book behind the idea of the fantasy dystopia. Can a fantasy dystopia exist? Or does dystopia, by its very nature, need to be urban? What happens if you take the very building blocks of a fantasy world, in this case its grass and its terhnwood (named because it made the world go round – little joke there), and you remove them? In short, as Ecko reaches the end of his journey, the quintessential supports of the world have rotted and gone, and the real horrors of The Death of Grass is exactly what he faces.
Vurt – Jeff Noon
The fractal reality book I really wish I’d written. A technicolour concept album, existing somewhere in the pattern between Alice in Wonderland, Akira and Trainspotting. Understanding requires a certain experience but, if you have the right past – and if you’ve come past it far enough – you can identify with everything this book reveals. From fractal bullets to the ice-cream van in the middle of the post-Ramadan party, this is evocative, powerfully visual and leaves you pressed against the back of your chair, hanging on for dear life…
Whatever you write, write it with passion and vision. Break boundaries. Throw paint on the walls around you, and celebrate doing it.
Because if you don’t, everything will fade to Grey.