Crack Addicts (not so) Anonymous

Over on Dreamwidth, Toft has posted about discovering the crack that is Mercedes Lackey (specifically, Valdemar).

It’s prompted an outpouring of squealing fangirl love in the comments — I suspect it’s mostly fangirls, though there may be the occasional fanboy in there — with frequent deployment of CAPITAL LETTERS to properly channel the commenters’ sentiments. I’m in there with them; I, too, was once a twelve-year-old girl, and Lackey’s books once occupied a beloved position on my bookshelf.

Some of them still do. When I packed up to move to California, one of the things I did was go through our bookcases, pulling and re-reading out the things that were there because I’d loved them when I was in junior high. The idea was to say farewell, to squeeze out those last, precious drops of nostalgia and then free up shelf space for books that are, well, better. In a few cases, though, the nostalgia was still going strong — and those books, I kept.

Understand, it’s not that they’re good. It’s that they’re crack, and furthermore crack which, for whatever reason, still has the power to affect me. Yes, Vanyel is Emo McAngstyPants, and THAT’S WHY I LOVE HIM. The fact that Dirk and Talia and Kris refuse to have the one simple conversation that could end all their suffering is not a FLAW, it’s WHY I SHOWED UP FOR THE BOOK. Drizzt Do’Urden could give Vanyel a run for his money on the emo front, with bonus chunks of unadulterated inner monologue OF WOE (plus awesome fight scenes!). David Eddings may be writing the same series over and over again, but in the Belgariad/Malloreon instance it’s a series that features smartass characters being smartasses to one another and I could watch that ALL DAY, YO. And Robert Jordan . . . well, I dumped his books because they take up too much damn room, but I’m making up for it in other ways.

And you know, there’s something wonderful about seeing people admit their love for crack, whether it’s stuff they adored in childhood or just picked up recently. So have at it in the comments: what do you love, not despite its ridiculousness, but because of it?

This is officially a SHAME-FREE ZONE; no need to preface your comments with “These books are so bad, but –” That part goes without saying. Just tell us what books you adore, against all reason. Unleash the power of your caps-lock key because lowercase letters AREN’T ENOUGH TO CONTAIN YOUR LOVE. Admit your addiction to emo soulbonded sparklepony hurt/comfort Mary Sue wish-fulfillment CRACK.

You know you want to.

0 Responses to “Crack Addicts (not so) Anonymous”

  1. sartorias

    Okay, my totally non-feminist, reactionary, ridiculous cracktastic shame fave are the Retief stories by Keith Laumer.

    • Marie Brennan

      I don’t know those at all, so share! What do you love about them? What buttons do they push for you?

      • sartorias

        I love the fractured English that Laumer uses for his aliens (like the Groaci always speak in the infinitive.) I love Retief’s easy ability to always win. Now, I read these as a scrawny, zit-faced teenage reject, so I’m sure there’s a lot of the teen love going for these as many feel for Mercedes Lackey, who began publishing after I was a teen, or I’d probably be on the Vanyel bandwagon as well. But they’re action, funny, and Retief always wins. Literature, they are NOT.

        There’s only one of the Retief novels that I like, I think it’s called Retief’s War, wherein the aliens can break apart and reassemble, for much laughter if you have a juvenile sense of humor like I do.

  2. unboundscribe

    Anne of Green Gables and series. Will never get over my love. I quote her and Philippa and Rachel Lynde in my life ’cause they’re just lovely. I don’t even care if they’re well-written (I always figured they were), I just LOVE THEM. I reread them every few years.

    Belgariad/Malloreon TOTALLY. They bring joy and warm fuzzies to the depths of my happy fantasy-loving soul. And he could rewrite the entire series AGAIN from any other perspective than the original and I would SO read it.

    Redwall. ADORE. I could read all day long and just keep on going.

    And I officially declare that my absolute OBSESSION for the glorious Earthsea books and Wrinkle and Time with it’s two sequels (I know there’s more, but it’s the trilogy I love) and ANYTHING at all of Zenna Henderson’s People stories is not crack at all. It is recognition of the virtues of their awesomeness. I love the characters and the situations and the wonderful SENSAWUNDA of it all. I could drown in those books and die happy.

    :warm fuzzies:


    • shadowkindrd

      If you want the Belgariad from Silk’s POV, try reading The Redemption of Althalus. It’s basically the Belgariad meets the Elenium with a side of WTF time travel?!

      • aulus_poliutos

        My favourite are the books that have Sparhawk in them. And all that Church intrigue that always gets thwarted by the good guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Marie Brennan

          I didn’t get into those as much, because I read them after the Garion etc. books, and preferred the first version of that particular plot that I’d encountered. But I know lots of people who share your order of preference.

      • Marie Brennan


        (Yeah, Silk was always my favorite.)

    • Marie Brennan

      I was such a passionate Redwall fan for, like, five or six books, before I fell too far behind, and Mossflower is still on my shelf. It’s the one I read first, and I heart it still.

  3. savageseraph

    When I moved to Georgia last year, I had to cull the book herd, and I did not get rid of a single Lackey novel either. They’re terrible, terrible novels on many levels, but I love them. Deeply.

    And speaking of emoangsty MarySueishness, let me just say…Laurell K. Hamilton. Yes, I went there. Anita Blake didn’t start out cracky, but it has become so. Holy shit, the Merry Gentry series was nothing but crack from the start.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh hell yeah is Anita Blake crack. I kept reading for way longer than I should have because interspersed with the crack I didn’t like so much was Edward and everything that related to him, which was AWESOME in a grim and gritty Anita-assumes-she-won’t-live-to-see-thirty kind of way. Never read Merry Gentry, though, as it looked like not my kind of crack from the start.

      • moonandserpent

        Wheras towards the end, even with my Vampire luv, I was only reading for Edward.

        • Marie Brennan

          I should have stopped with Obsidian Butterfly, because it was the All Edward All the Time book, and the one or maybe two I read after that were such a profound disappointment in comparison with the fabulously twisted relationship Anita has with him.

  4. oneminutemonkey

    I totally loved Misty’s Valdemar stuff back when it first came out. Throughout the late ’80s and early-to-mid ’90s, I read everything she turned out, as well as everything her friends did. It was the era of Baen, for me. Misty Lackey, Ellen Guon, Esther Friesner, Josepha Sherman, Mark Shephard, Larry Dixon, Holly Lisle….

    What can I say? I was in high school, and these were the books that spoke to me. Apart from some Charles de Lint and the odd book by Pamela Dean or Emma Bull, there really wasn’t any great urban fantasy, and absolutely nothing like the ‘splosion we have now. And yeah, I read David Eddings and Piers Anthony, Jennifer Roberson and Katherine Kurtz, Patricia Kennealy (before she added the -Morrison and went kinda fruitcake on her blog readers), Tom Deitz…

    Holy crap. I just realized that in listing all the stuff I read and loved in that period, I haven’t read any of it in years. For most of those authors, I haven’t read anything they’ve done in years, even decades.

    I also read the Forgotten Realms books like they were candy. Also some of the other TSR novels, back in the day. I still have stacks of them, those that I couldn’t even give away to a used bookstore, those that survived the last round of basement flooding.

    My greatest period of WTF was I thinking, my greatest bafflement, was, without a doubt, the time in college when I collected the Freshman Dorm series. Nothing can explain how I lasted 21 books in that. I apologize for nothing, but I really have no idea what young me was doing.

    Oh, Young Me. Your tastes were so weird, but I understand, it was the ’80s and ’90s and the options were what they were. To this day, I have a deep and unyielding love for Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, Emma Bull’s War For The Oaks, Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen, and Simon R. Green’s Blue Moon Rising. Someday, my collection will be organized enough that I can go back and give some attention to the books which made me happy back then.

    No I did not have a high school crush on Talia she just needed lots of hugs and understanding and we could have been best friends shut up you can’t make me admit a thing and don’t look at me that way and I didn’t think Alanna was made of win either SO THERE and now I shut up.

    • Marie Brennan

      Patricia Kennealy-Morrison went fruitcake on her blog readers?

      It’s dangerous going back to these loves, because a lot of them lose their shine when viewed with adult eyes. (On the other hand, there’s such glee in finding the ones that are still cracktastic fun.)

      Eeee, Forgotten Realms! Mostly it was the dark elf books I adored, but also Azure Bonds with its ridiculous magic armor and oh I’d forgotten about Dragonbait who was totally an AWESOME PALADIN FROM ANOTHER PLANE or whatever, and I loved the Harpers series, too.

      Freshman Dorm . . . ?

      Re: Talia and Alanna — totally! Minus the crush part on my side (I reserved that for the guys), but otherwise, WORD.

      • oneminutemonkey

        Freshman Dorm, by Linda Conney, was a soap opera-ish series, and the title is pretty self-explanatory. It was also an extremely short-lived TV series (I think 5 episodes) which aired JUST as I was going off to college myself, so clearly I figured it was relevant. There’s a rather fascinating writeup of the books here if so interested.

        Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, was, at one point, an author I loved for the Keltiad books. (CELTS. IN. SPAAAAACE.) Then she stopped producing them, and/or dropped out of sight. A few years back, I found her on LJ and was very excited to be able to follow her life and announcements, even if it became clear that her philosophies and mine diverged. Not that I said anything, I don’t go to other peoples’ journals to challenge their personal stuff, but anyway. Then she decided that clearly, there were too many people reading her and not enough commenting, which led to this post here. Then she promptly set the journal so only friends could comment, and defriended everyone who didn’t comment enough by her standards. Thus killing any lingering goodwill or affection I had for her. ๐Ÿ™

        • Marie Brennan

          Whereas I got all my preconceptions about college from Pamela Dean. <g>

          PKM: . . . . wow. Would she also say that readers who buy her books but don’t write her fan-mail clearly aren’t interested in what she has to say? Or does money stand in for commenting, in that regard? Which I guess rules out library readers as counting, either. Anyway, yeah, I see how that poisoned your view of her a bit. (I read the first of the CELTS. IN. SPAAAAAACE. books, and always meant to read more, though I never got around to it.)

          • oneminutemonkey

            Oh, I took Tam Lin to college with me and loved it to bits and always wondered why my experience wasn’t anywhere near as weird and wonderful, despite several theatrical parallels that struck me at the time but have faded from thought since. I still want that sort of college experience. ๐Ÿ™

            As for PKM… shrug. Maybe I didn’t comment much, but honestly, she didn’t exactly comment in my journal a whole lot either. She didn’t care what I had to say, except to once correct my spelling of an author’s name. So there’s an example of an author who personally managed to ruin how I felt about them (as opposed to the ones who impersonally do it. Heh.)

        • brigidsblest

          Yeah, I got culled in the PKM unfriending of ’09, too.

  5. beccastareyes

    I actually re-bought Mercedes Lackey’s Tarma and Kethy books after I sold them for moving purposes. Well, I got them via a bookswap. Mostly because I love reading books about competent women and partnerships that aren’t two men* and/or filled with UST. (Simon Green’s Hawk and Fisher are at the opposite end of platonic here in that they are married, but they and Tarma and Kethy both have the ‘partners without the UST’ going for them.)

    That and I have her fairy-tale books (the 500 Kingdom set, not the Elemental Masters set, though I was pretty fond of those…). The romance still usually makes me want to throw them occasionally, but I do like fairy-tale retellings and the fact they usually have competent female leads. And elemental magic. I love me some elemental magic.

    Add in Simon Greene’s Nightside books, which I kind of like for being very kitchen sink and sort of… oh, I can’t describe it. Something about the tone — maybe I just love me a smart-ass narrator.

    Lilith Saintcrow was is this category with her Dante Valentine series, but it was one of those where she wasn’t focusing on the aspects that interested me so I ended up dropping it. Ilona Andrews scratches the post-magic-came-back itch pretty well, though.

    if we get into comic books, I can dig out the shoujo comics that I always want to bring up, but feel embarrassed, because it feels like western fandom will perpetually dis shoujo, especially elements that don’t involve attractive men. But I love me some magical girls, and coming-of-ages stories involving girls, and Plucky Heroines with their Best Friends… actually the romance is hit or miss, which is why I tend to gravitate towards the fantasy/SF shoujo. It’s a sad fact that you have to pitch a series towards women/girls to have a female lead, or in a role as something other than The Chick or The Vague Love Interest Person. So I have Prรฉtear and Basara and just bought Library Wars, and wish I could get a hold of Sailormoon.

    * The buddy cop dynamic usually has this covered.

    • oneminutemonkey

      There is no shame in reading and loving Simon R. Green, because it’s generally understood that his books are pretty much all HOLY SHIT WTF OMG EXPLOSIONS SWORDFIGHTS LASERS PEW PEW SNARKY CHARACTERS SECRET AGENDAS FIRE EXPLOSIONS EVERYONE IS THE BEST AT WHAT THEY DO SNAKES ON A PLANE RINSE REPEAT and that taps into the visceral part of us that gets off on this sort of thing.

      They’re totally bad for you with no nutritional content whatsoever, and yet, so very tasty. Like street vendor hot dogs. Mmm, hot dogs.

      Green’s one of my very favoritest authors ever. No question about it.

      • beccastareyes

        Fair enough. It’s definitely in my box of ‘beach reading’ — things that, as you said, have no nutritional content but I enjoy.

      • spiffikins

        ahahahaha I love you! LASERS PEW PEW!!!

        (and I have all of the Nightside books on my shelf)

      • desperance

        Hee. May I pass this on to Simon? He’ll be chuffed…

        • oneminutemonkey

          Sure thing. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I found Blue Moon Rising back in high school, and I’ve happily reviewed a great many of his books over the years. Got a bunch signed some time back when I caught him at cons he attended here in the States. I’m pretty sure by the end he thought I was a stalker, to which I say “I have a fresh batch of books that need signing…”

          Tell him he needs a real website, too! It hurts me that I can’t send people to worship at his site. ๐Ÿ™‚

          And for Simon R. Green fans, I can’t recommend the audio adaptations by Graphic Audio enough. They are MIND CRACK.

      • Marie Brennan

        You are totally winning at the caps lock key. <g>

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh god, comics and manga. CLAMP are like my own personal heroin, sitting in that sweet spot where you’ve got shoujo-style bishounen (SHUT UP I LIKE THE PRETTYBOYS) combined with shounen-style end-of-the-world dramaz (ESPECIALLY WHEN THE PRETTYBOYS ARE CRYING) — basically, stick a needle in my arm and feed X: 1999 straight into the vein, with the utterly twisted insanity of Tokyo Babylon for a finisher. Subaru and Seishiro’s history is SO WRONG IN THE HEAD I don’t even have the words to describe it.

  6. wldhrsjen3

    Oh, I ADORED Terry Brooks and David Eddings and Robert Jordan. Hee – and Raymond E. Feist. The more bloated the epic, the more melodrama and angst and endless exposition the better! LOL

    I can’t stomach Feist anymore (tried a few years ago) and Brooks and Eddings make me cringe just a little, but I have undying affection for their books because the memories they conjure are so strong. And Jordan… what can I say? I have to find out what happens next. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Marie Brennan

      Feist was one I enjoyed but never quite imprinted on in the baby duckling way, except that I recall totally crushing on Arutha and Martin, and they freaking BLEW UP ARMENGAR WHICH WAS TOTALLY SWEET.

  7. owldaughter

    You have just described my thoughts as I packed all the Lackey/Eddings/etc books at one end of my recent move, and unpacked them at the other end. These aren’t good,. But I can’t haul them off to the secondhand store, because yes, they’re crack. I should sell off my later Lackey books because they do go downhill and I’m unlikely to reread them (Why did I start buying the new releases in hardcover; nostalgia?), but I can’t bring myself to do it.

    Echoing the above commenters, my early Laurell K. Hamiltons are still there (I finally gave up on both series a couple of years ago, but the early Anita Blake books are great reads), as are my Redwalls. And a battered boxed set of the original Dragonlance trilogy (two, in fact; one’s my husband’s), and the Legends box set, too.

  8. temporaryworlds

    Ah Misty. Although I have “grown out of” those books, I suspect that I will never donate, sell, or otherwise get rid of Talia’s trilogy, or the Tarma and Kethry books.

    As for my crack series, I realize I’m being terribly unoriginal, but the Twilight Saga. It speaks to the angsty teenage girl in me, and every now and then, you need to feed that inner teenage girl ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marie Brennan

      I haven’t tried Twilight; I suspect I no longer have the receptors necessary to get into them, and that trying would only make me want to beat my head into a wall. But they are clearly crack for a great many people.

  9. wojelah

    Ohh. Lackey for sure – I think when I did my cull I kept most of it, but definitely the Arrows set, and Vanyel (OMG THE EMO), and Tarma and Kethry, and the Gryphon set, and I think also the Winds trio, because Elspeth got to be bratty and also Amberdrake was HOT).

    Also the Alanna series, which I read until the covers fell off. I just recently read her Trickster books, and really enjoyed them.

    WHAT ELSE. HMMM. The Phantom of the Opera – the actual book. And the sequel someone else wrote – Erik, I think it’s called. LOTS MORE EMO.

    And the Dealing with Dragons series, which probably doesn’t deserve to be classed with the aforementioned because they are actually pretty fun and kickass. Cimmorene FTW. Ditto on Patrica Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician books (Kim the thief and an absent minded professor) and Wrede/Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia set (epistolary kink! pretty dresses! balls! and also some pretty cool magic!).

    Oh my god. I could be here all night.

    • Marie Brennan

      The Phantom was not so terribly emo in the original book that I recall, but boy howdy was it easy to make him so for the musical and any sequels/fanfic/etc. He’s like Zuko with singing!

      Wrede is totally not crack, she’s GREAT. Cimorene was one of my role models as a kid, and I still think she’s a pretty good one now. Because everyone needs to learn fencing and Latin! (Though I cannot, sad to say, cook cherries jubilee.)

      • wojelah

        Hee. The original Phantom himself wasn’t emo, though Christine and Raoul probably qualify. I am not pointing fingers – I LOVE that book. And if you have not read Erik, you are missing INSANE levels of emo, let me tell you. Boy howdy, just as you say.

        Wrede really is fantastic – somehow the comment had turned into a comfort reads list at that point. ๐Ÿ˜€ I never learned Latin (Spanish does not count, I suppose, despite being vaguely related). But I loved fencing, and I have a great cherries jubilee recipe, no lie.

        • Marie Brennan

          Share the recipe? I have this vague ambition to cook the dish, now.

          (I’d teach you Latin in return, but that’s a bit hard to do over LJ comments. I can try to translate a phrase or two for you, though, if you’d like. <g>)

          • wojelah

            Happily. It’s at home, so I will have to look it up tonight! And I will keep that offer in my back pocket. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. cloudshaper2k

    Piers Anthony’s Xanth books still occupy a place on my shelves alongside an embarrassing number of World of Darkness novels. I also held onto my copies of the Firebrats novels – more because I still love the characters of Matt and Dani than because of the setting.

    And there’s that nearly complete stack of Amethyst comics on the second shelf of my bedside table . . .

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve got a friend who may or may not show up in the comments here who ADORES early Xanth, so you’re not alone.

      Firebrats and Amethyst, I do not know. Share!

      • cloudshaper2k

        Firebrats was a post-apocalyptic YA series written by Barbara and Scott Siegel and published in 1987. It only lasted four books. It’s a nuclear holocaust setting and follows a pair of teenagers through surviving the bombs and chasing a rumor that part of California wasn’t hit.

        Amethyst was a DC comic. Initially a 12 issue “maxi-series,” fan response convinced DC to continue the story with a monthly title. The main character, Amy Winston, was a princess from another world (the Gemworld) brought to Earth after the tyrant Dark Opal murdered her parents. There’s a whole lot of wish fulfillment in the initial series – I mean, she gets her own winged unicorn in the fourth issue, IIRC – but the setting had my friends and I entranced. We role-played in this world – not with books and such, but as young children do – creating our own places in the world and having our own adventures. Unfortunately, because of the obsessive need for every DC title to tie into their main world (see “Crisis on Infinite Earths”), the series was ruined and most of the characters didn’t get endings I liked or that felt right. A few years ago, I started playing around with the idea of “rebooting” the story – have a half a script on my hard drive, too.

  11. diatryma

    There are a lot of books I wish I could tell my younger self not to buy, not because they are bad, but because I expect every library system in the conutry to have them. Valdemar, Eddings, Jordan, all on the list. I just wish new Lackey were as good to current me as old Lackey was to then-me.

    For crack…


    They are big fat angsty books with characters being tortured and a sort of antifeminist feminism and also Lucivar, who is so dangerous they stopped using him as a pleasure slave and has wings, and Daemon, who is basically the embodiment of sex, in the sense that the little-death he gives you will probably kill you. Saetan SaDiablo, seriously, that is his name, is the High Lord of Hell and vicious and not quiiiite as dangerous as his mirror-son. Jaenelle, the central character of the books, at one point turns off the sun to make it clear that no, you do not get to tell her what to do. And there is a woman who everyone knows is a prostitute who makes most of her money by killing people, and a really cool way of showing madness– I need to steal the Twisted Kingdom somehow– and really biiiig kitties.

    And magical cock rings.

    And the opening scene involves a man trapped in a box with bacon grease smeared on his genitals to attract rats.

    ‘Comfort violence’ comes closest to describing it, I think.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh lordy, Anne Bishop. I really enjoyed the Black Jewels trilogy, especially because she managed to build her world around symbols that felt genuinely feminine in association (webs, chalices, etc), though the characters are so messed up and wrong and good god the NAMES. My one complaint is that she’s too soft-hearted to really go for the throat when it comes to her angst — no seriously, friends of hers have said it’s verifiably true — so there were places where I wanted her to rip the characters’ hearts out and she just kind of poked at them instead. But I can imagine my own version, Now With More Angst!, so it’s okay.

      • diatryma

        I would happily read the Even More Angstful version because really, the only thing that would make cooking a man’s wife and son alive better would have been if Lucivar hadn’t caught on for longer.

        • Marie Brennan

          The one that particularly stuck in my mind was when Lucivar escapes the salt mines. I guess it isn’t as much about making him suffer as making me suffer — I wanted Bishop to present me with his break for freedom, running for that canyon area, and not tell me until he gets to the edge and spreads his wings that they’ve been eaten away by the mold. She tipped her hand on that too early, and missed the chance to give me hope and then SNATCH IT AWAY.

          I also remember being disappointed about how easily Daemon’s reconciliation with Jaenelle happened after he came back from the Twisted Kingdom. Kinda like Phedre and Joscelin meeting up again near the end of Kushiel’s Chosen; their separation was so wonderfully painful, but the ease with which it was healed retroactively undermined that just a bit.

  12. lowellboyslash

    KUSHIEL! God, I loved those books. Carey gets away with crap I’d never let an author do, because omg the angst is so hilariously pretty and French, and she writes better sex scenes than ANYBODY.

    I second whoever said Redwall. And, y’know, because it deserves to be said: Harry Potter. I am obsessed with Harry Potter. That stuff is ADDICTIVE.

    • Marie Brennan

      The original trilogy has enough other stuff going for it that I think it transcends crack to be actually good. The angst is, as you say, hilariously pretty and French, and of course there’s the sex scenes, but there’s also political intrigue and nifty worldbuilding and I don’t feel any shame about loving those books.

      Harry Potter, definitely addictive. (And not afraid of the caps-lock key.)

  13. rabidfangurl

    I bring my Mercedes Lackey books with me everywhere for one reason only: to prove there is someone with a life more woeful than mine. I just know that grad school will have me tearing my hair out in short order, but that’s ok! VANYEL’S LIFE SUCKS WORSE THAN MINE EVER WILL. And reading about it will make me feel better in no time.

    Mercedes Lackey books: like angsty popcorn for the soul.

    • Marie Brennan

      Hee — I love that description. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And yes, I think that’s a great deal of the pleasure in reading about such horrible things happening to characters: it puts your own life into perspective.

  14. shadowkindrd

    Roger Zelanzy’s Amber series. I SOOO want to live in that world.

    The Lensmen series. No, it didn’t age well, and OMFG the sexism, but who cares? It had really alien aliens, mental powers, sexy men, and I really, really wanted to be the children of the genetically engineered children.

    I add to the Anne Bishop fan girl squee for anything in the Dark Jewels world. The men are…*fans self* (Her other works are hit or miss. Mostly miss, sadly.)

    Here’s a true guilty pleasure: Sharon Green, The Blending series. Lemme be honest: these books stink badly. The main characters manage to be two dimensional on a regular basis, but all the other characters can sometimes craw up to one dimensional. The world building is naive, and the plotting is sophomoric. And I could NOT put them down. Maybe it was the train wreck quality. I don’t know. I just read them over and over again.

    The last cracky book series that I’ve got is Lorna Freeman’s Borderland. I love Rabbit. He’s just too awesome.

    • diatryma

      Anne Bishop tends to worldbuild according to id. This works in the Dark Jewels books because the world matches the id. The fairy books, not so much. The landscape books, that was actually worldbuilding to justify her methods, which was interesting, but it had no Lucivar.

      I skipped the haunted house book, but I’ve read most of the rest. Still like the courts and the jewels and the people with wings and also yarbarah.

      • Marie Brennan

        Anne Bishop tends to worldbuild according to id.

        That is an excellent way of putting it.

        (Over on Toft’s post, there’s a comment to the effect of “Id Vortex, have you met Mercedes Lackey? . . . oh, you already know each other? Excellent!” It’s SO TRUE.)

    • Marie Brennan

      I need to read Amber! I’ve been meaning to for ages. And I keep wondering if I could get into the Lensmen books, or if I’m too critical now and would bounce off them.

      Several people have now mentioned Freeman, so I may need to check that out.

      • shadowkindrd

        I think you might be able to read Lensmen if you kept several things firmly in mind. One, PC didn’t exist, and Smith is firmly of the boys shoot things, girls patch boys back together category. Not that the women in his stories are helpless, mind you. They’re pretty capable. They’re just not going across any gender roles any time soon.

        Second, Lensmen and other Smith series are the first real series we can point at and say Space Opera! I can’t say he invented the subgenre, but he certainly put it on the map.

        Third, a friend of his wrote a follow-up book (after he died), and there, the gender roles started to blend. It turns out that it wasn’t the friend retconning things; he and Smith had talked about the issues, and Smith had always intended for women to become Lensmen, but in story, Mentor and his people had prevented it in order to preserve the bloodlines.

        Fourth, the series was written pre-transistor. No modern tech; he didn’t even envision many of the things we take for granted today.

        Fifth, the prose is…not sophisticated. The story is more so, but it takes a lot to get beyond once you’re used to looking at prose.

        The best reason I can suggest to read them is their aliens. Smith did aliens better that really anyone I’ve read before or since (and I read A LOT). If nothing else, the series is educational from that angle.

        • Marie Brennan

          Thanks — that’s good to know!

        • mindstalk

          I note that in a prequel, when a woman goes for the Lens and gets told “no girls allowed”, all the men who know her get very upset on her behalf. But yeah, it’s 1930s fiction.

          Smith is probably a source of major Tropes, one of which it’d be somewhat spoileriffic to mention.

          Lensmen had an actual political campaign and election, though possibly in one of the later prequels. It also had a character go as a purple-prose SF writer as a disguise.

          Writing not sophisticated. Vocabulary somewhat more so.

          I’m not sure if Smith did aliens *better* than say Cherryh, but he certainly went for exotic non-humanoid aliens with different pscyhologies. They’re almost Lovecraftian in their strangeness, but this being Smith, they can find common cause and grounds for working together despite their non-overlaps. You could call the whole thing Clash Of Civilizations meets Lovecraft.

          The morality is a bit more subtle than it first appears, too. Though it’s not very subtle about being more subtle.

    • melodyunity

      OMG, I just finished rereading the Blending series. You’re absolutely right; they’re completely awful — everything you said in regards to plot and characters, and also they’re very repetitive (especially the first couple of books; she gets a little better about that as she goes). I mean, really? Really? You need to describe the SAME scene from EVERY SINGLE ONE of the FIVE main characters’ points of view?

      And, hahahahaha, the dialogue! It’s so, so badly written! I don’t even have words.

      And yet. I AM REREADING THIS SERIES FOR THE THIRD TIME NOW. Why? I don’t even know. There’s just something about them. Also, they have very, very pretty covers (which is why I picked them up that first time.)

  15. carbonel

    I would have utterly loved Mercedes Lackey’s books when I was in junior high, only I was born too soon. I loved them with a totally unreasonable passion when they did come out, especially the Vanyel books. I mean, slash fan here, and a book full of gay angst and hurt/comfort (not to mention sparkleponies and all).

    Honestly, I can’t remember what kind of crackfic I read in high school. There must have been some, along with all the obsessive rereading of everything Heinlein ever wrote, and the glorious discovery that Zenna Henderson wrote lots of stories, not just the one that was in the anthology I first found a People story in.

    In college, though — that’s when I was reading the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz, and the Darkover novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and the Sime/Gen novels by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and Anne McCaffrey’s dragonrider books. Not to mention every bit of Star Trek fanfiction I could get my hands on. Not to mention first reading LotR, which doesn’t count as crack, but I read it just as obsessively the first seven or so times.

    • arkessian

      Oh, yes, to Sime/Gen! Also Zenna Henderson.

    • strangerian

      Oh, yes, this was my trajectory, too. The Darkover/Pern/Sime “fringe” fandoms were to me what Lackey was a decade later. Also, it was the ticket into media fandom, which changed my life. I think I liked Deryni more for the echoes of Lymond (and I don’t even remember if I read the Lymond Chronicles before or after, but there were ECHOES in Alaric Morgan) and the whizz-bang colorful magic, but it had plenty of emo-crack as well. The SF I’d been reading since about age 9 was good fun, but these were better.

    • aulus_poliutos

      Gods yes, Darkover and Deryni. I still have those.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m surprised there hasn’t been more mention of Darkover and Pern, actually. I never got into the former, but the latter was also favorite crack for quite a while — actually, damn near anything McCaffrey wrote. Like the UST of the (first?) Ship book, and the Crystal Singers being all WE ARE MORE AWESOME THAN EVERYBODY ELSE WITH OUR ALIEN SYMBIOTE IMMORTALITY, and the drama-tastic Talents flinging ships all over the galaxy.

  16. lanerobins

    Oh man, I loved loved loved Mercedes Lackey books even coming to them fairly late–freshman at college. Part of it was that the english program I was in was all about the stripped down, repressed prose and here she just spewed all the emotion out on the page. Loved it. I still think reading her is one of the reasons I ended up writing for real; it was just so much fun to read.

    Recently I ran across a book that hit all those similar buttons–super-special but unknowing young hero that everyone admires! Cat people! Magical lands and secret kings and all that jazz, with absolutely nothing kept back or hidden. If the character angsts, it’s on the page and someone’s handing him a tissue. It’s so much fun. Covenants by Lorna Freeman. All about her super special young soldier named Rabbit.

    That aside, there’s some nifty bits of magical mythology in the book that I quite admired.

    • shadowkindrd

      Yay! I’m not alone in loving Rabbit.

      The thing I like the best is that yes, he’s super powerful and too gifted for his own good, but damn, is he screwed. Michelle Sagara does the same thing in her Cast series. Her heroine is very much super powered, and damn, is she screwed.

      As a writer, one of the other things I appreciate about the Borderlands books is that Lorna Freeman does talking heads better than anyone else I’ve read. And she doesn’t hesitate to have her character say “Long story!” ‘Tis hilarious.

      • Marie Brennan

        I so very much love it when authors crank the power up to 11 and the screwed-ness up to 12. It’s actually where Anne Bishop falls just a tiny bit short of full crackitude for me: she flinches back from that extra bit of angst.

        • shadowkindrd

          Oh, I do, too, although I’m not convinced that Bishop falls that much short. She’s walking the balancing line between really vile things and a bunch of passionate people. She may not express everything explicitly, but what she implies is breathtakingly evil and/or glorious.

          But yes, I love the powergaming books (as I like to think of them). Crank the powers up? Sure. Awesome. Then they get to deal with situations that crank up the stakes and the circumstances and the villains. And if they do something stupid, then kill them. *bwahahahahaha*

          Why, yes, I was a GM in a previous life… :p

          • Marie Brennan

            Actually, I’ve spoken to writers who are friends of hers, and they say she admits she’s too softhearted to go all the way sometimes. And there were points in the books where I’m pretty sure I saw that flinching undermine the story just a little bit.

    • Marie Brennan

      Okay, I may need to try the Freeman, because several people have mentioned her.

  17. moonandserpent

    Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

    Utter HORRIBLE crack.

    Jack Reacher is a towering Aryan-man mountain who is Ex-Army military police who walks across the land and has adventures. Usually involving massive amounts of improbable physical violence and a pretty woman who can’t resist his plain looks, lack of speech and physical perfection.

    Oh! And he doesn’t exercise, he’s figured out the optimum way of DOING EVERYDAY TASKS to enhance his musculature.

    • Marie Brennan

      was posting about those over on her other blog a while ago. Color me intrigued.

      • moonandserpent

        One of the things I love about them, is that you’d think they’d be archly conservative and misogynistic with a take like that, but they’re not. And sometimes the plots are really clever and the prose is purple, but knowingly so. Lee Child writes Jack Reacher like a modern day, blue collar Doc Savage.


      • moonandserpent

        Also, I know not this kleenstar, but their first post is about one of my favourite living authors (and sometimes casting for Stark) Andrew Vacchs.

        • Marie Brennan

          Friend of mine from college, helped me out with that Genesis-based story I was telling you about, and responded to Kyle’s query of how one could design a (WoD) vampire as an observant Jew with “ooh ooh I worked that out a while ago here’s how it goes!” Pretty fabulous all around.

  18. spiffikins

    Count me in with the Valdemar-crack. I *loved* Vanyel’s book – I can quote from memory the scene where Vanyel and Jarvis finally sit down for a heart to heart…passages from those books *still* make me tear up!

    David Edding’s Belgariad series, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality – including the Author’s Notes – omg – and the Blue Adept series – although the first 3 were *much* better than than second trilogy.

    The early Anita Blake books, for sure…they’ve gotten so bad though now that I borrow them from the library and won’t even buy the paperback – same with the Merry Gentry series.

    Anne Bishop, as others have said, pure cracktastic angsty wondrousness.

    Her books remind of the Michele Sagara series the Sundred which were dark and angsty and were out of print for so very long, but are available again!

    All my poor books are in storage…so it’s hard to visualize what would be on my shelves if I got to unpack them…but on the *new* authors of cracktastic guilty pleasures – J.R. Ward, omg…I HATE that they’re in hardcover now because I just cannot allow myself to buy the hardcover so I have to WAIT!

    • Marie Brennan

      Hah — I’ve seen the Smart Bitches go on about the J.R. Ward stuff. OMG, the superfluous H’s! The uber-alpha-male ridiculosity! I don’t think I’d personally enjoy reading them, but reading about other people reading them is fabulous. ^_^

  19. la_marquise_de_

    I am too old for Lackey. I hated them. But I do have a deep, abiding love for Dragonflight. (But for none of the later books.)

    • lindenfoxcub

      Oh good, I’m not the only one who hated mercedes lackey. If I’d been 12 when I started reading them, I would have devoured them, but sadly, I was 25 when my husband insisted I read these amazing books, and I got to book 2 of the valdemar series, and really, it wasn’t the angst that got me, cause that wasn’t so bad, it was the breakdown of author research on dealing with snow. They’re in a forest thick enough that they can’t go around a fallen tree, and they’re worried about going snowblind? You don’t get snowblindness in a forest. You get it on the tundra where there are no trees to break up the brightness. Otherwise, I’d have to wear snow goggles six months of the year.

      I did love Ann Mccaffrey, though – just the dragon books, and only the first six and the three prequels (Moreta the most though, I read it first and there was lots of death and a tragic ending.)

      The other one, I’m not sure if it qualifies as crappy enough to be crack, but E E Knight’s Age of Fire series, about the dragons; from the point of view of the dragons instead of the angsty mary sue dragon riders. They don’t have riders, and frequently eat people.

      • Marie Brennan

        One of my discarded series ideas from ages ago was a dragon-rider thing where the people are absolutely the subordinate partners in that equation, basically acting as servants to these large flying carnivores that cannot quite do everything for themselves.

        • mindstalk

          You should read Cherry’s Rider at the Gate, for both the above reason *and* what a friend called “Cherryh must have read too much Lackey and snapped”.

    • Marie Brennan

      I devoured quite a bit of Pern, though Dragonflight was never quite my favorite. (Why has nobody tried to make that into a movie?)

      • shadowkindrd

        I think it’s been optioned off and on over time, and there was a script floating around at one point, but the tech simply wasn’t there to pull off the movie to the point where McCaffery was comfortable. (This is all dredged out of memory from at least a decade ago, so take it for what it’s worth.)

        The tech is now here. Maybe it’s time this changed.

        • Marie Brennan

          They’ve optioned Naomi Novik’s stuff — maybe even gotten beyond the option stage; I’m not sure — so really, Pern’s just crying out for adaptation.

      • la_marquise_de_

        It was optioned, I seem to remember. But there’s that problem that it’s all about a girl who isn’t one bit princessy — do the film types have a marketing category for that?

  20. strangerian

    There was a strain of combined fantasy-oid SF books in the late 60s and 70s — Darkover, Sime/Gen, Pern, Deryni, that hooked a significant percentage of female SF fans. (For all I know, male fans as well, but they didn’t talk about it.) These had the fantasy vibe of being about character arc(s) as well as the hardware (or “hard” science-y magic). ST fandom took off at the same time as a female-dominated space, with the spaceships, computers and aliens but *also* character relationships. Lackey seems to have hit the same vein a decade or two later, a bit further to the fantasy end of the spectrum, and I loved her early books as well, but haven’t read most of the later ones.

    My favorite was Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy series, which had magic “talent” substituting for science and posited a scientific method for dealing with magic spells. There were also benevolent aristocrats and broad-stroke alternate history. (He dumped the same two paragraphs into every story about Richard I living an extra 20 years and founding a Franco-British empire.) While it didn’t have angsty adolescents, it did have a Holmesian detective with a title. Who was always right, but only because he took the advice of his trusted sorcerer companion. I have no idea why there isn’t a ton of slash about these two, actually. It was a print story series that peaked too early, probably.

    • Marie Brennan

      Wow, that DOES sound slashable. All they need to do is make a TV series from it, and the fangirls will be on it like white on rice.

      • strangerian

        Oh, yes. In a heartbeat. Even if nobody is a vampire. (Definitely not from the books.) In TV-land, Sean O’Lochlainn wouldn’t be “tubby,” though I suspect Sean Astin would get a fangirl pass for a Samwise-esque physique, and that would do for the character.

    • mindstalk

      I read a bunch of Pern books, starting with the Harper Hall stuff. (Pern is obviously squishy SF to me, not fantasy. Very squishy, mind you.) Deryni, and a male friend and I in college got really into analysing the worldbuilding more than it deserved; I might have been in the Deryni FAQ for a while, though I might be thinking of Pliocene instead. A female friend introduced me to Darkover, especially Forbidden Tower, she liked the poly and other relationship stuff.

      I’m male.

      Mind you, haven’t read any of that stuff in years, let alone later “milking” books. Though I did memorize a long filk that turned out to be Darkover based.

  21. aulus_poliutos

    Eddings and the earlier Feist books here as well. I had no idea I share that crack addiction with so many people. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Plus that wonderful heroic historical fiction the 19th century produced, Felix Dahn, Sir Walter Scott, Alexandre Dumas, Sigrid Undset, etc.

    But the worst sort of crack are – in case there’s a German reader here – Karl May’s Mรผnchmeyer novels. *grin*

    • Marie Brennan

      Karl May’s Mรผnchmeyer novels

      Tell more! I’ve never heard of those.

      • aulus_poliutos

        Karl May wrote a lot of adventure tales albeit he hadn’t traveled to all those cool places because he spent his time in prison – only when he became famous and his jail time had ended did he visit some of the places of his books. He created the most slashable pair evah: Winnetou, the noble Apache chief, and Old Shatterhand (aka Karl May’s self insert). The Wild West and Arabia/Balkan tales (where May features as Kara Ben Nemsi) are pure adventure, but the Mรผnchmeyer novels are something more.

        Short version: multi-volume adventure romances with lots of travel. The long version: Noble heroes (who also are German, skilled fighters, diplomats, officers and whatnot) and beautiful heroines who need to be rescued a lot (and who can be French or Russian, or even come right out of a harem on occasion). Evil guys and a few evil women who are really EVIL (and often not German, though there are exceptions). Add to this settings all the way from Europe to Siberia, from the Wild West when it was still wild and Mexico to the deserts of Arabia and the African jungle, throw in a lonely island where the evil guys abandoned our noble heroes and heroines, harems and serails, castles with secret vaults, abandoned mines, also with secret vaults, and a few rivers with dangerous currents. Have the romance couples – who always fall in love at first sight because he’s so manly and she’s so beautiful – lose and find each other a few times, often separated by the machinations of the bad guys, add a bunch of fights, narrow escapes, battles and some digging your way out of a secret vault or managing to build a boat to escape from that island. Throw in a spy or two, and the good guys praying when they’re in trouble (the bad guys often are atheists and sometimes Muslims) and let the whole simmer for a week. The books are atrociously anti-feminist and pro-German (with the odd Noble Savage thrown in), have plot holes you can drive a steamer through and more coincidences than a bad fanfic. They are also a helluva fun.

        • aulus_poliutos

          I forgot one thing: Spice with lost siblings. ๐Ÿ™‚

          In one 6 book series there are 5 of them spread all over the world by the bad guys, one as cossack in Russia, one working in some dangerouns silver mine in Arizona, one girl sold into a harem …. They find each other with the help of The Super Guy who’s even better at the hero thing than the brothers and who, of course, also hunts a lost love of his life, the daughter of a maharadja.

        • Marie Brennan

          Good GOD. You weren’t kidding about them being crackalicious, were you?

          • aulus_poliutos

            Lol, they’re cheesecake. With extra cheese and sugar. ๐Ÿ™‚

            I read a lot of 19th century fiction, and those books are such crazy things that they make for a good break between the more serious stuff.

            They sold well in May’s time, actually.

  22. Anonymous

    I’m a total sucker for a media tie-in book. Star Trek, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, I read them all religiously. When I love a world, I want MORE MORE MORE, and those books provide it. Tie-ins and shared worlds get a bad wrap, and, indeed, a lot of them are AWFUL, but others are among my overall favorites.

    Feist and Eddings were crack for a short period of time, but Feist has become virtually unreadable, and Eddings lost his luster rather quickly. Jordan? Still hopelessly addicted. I’m actually really jonesin’ now that another one is almost here.

    LKH is another who was crack there for a while and then went totally off-the-rails. Most boring “erotica” ever, and, sorry, I just don’t find guys with hair that long sexy.

    Simon R. Green = TOTAL CRACK! As oneminutemonkey said, they’re everything and the kitchen sink, and I love it. I will say, though, I don’t think they’re totally devoid of nutritional content; I think he does love and sacrifice really well.

    Jim Butcher is a God, and I hate waiting a year between each book.

    I was a total Agatha Christie junkie when I was a kid. I still am, kinda, in that I’m slowly gathering all the DVDs of the Suchet Poirots and the Marples, but I got rid of the books because they took up too much room. Plus, she’s pretty much one author you know will never go out of print, so I knew I’d just buy them all again anyway, someday.

    • Marie Brennan

      Okay, I’m going to have to give Green a shot. He’s been on my wishlist for a while.

      • oneminutemonkey

        All you have to do now is decide what flavor of Green.
        High/epic fantasy: Blue Moon Rising
        Low fantasy/police procedural: Hawk and Fisher (or the Swords of Haven omnibus)
        Urban Fantasy a la Dresden: Something From The Nightside
        Adventure Urban fantasy a la James Bond: The Man With The Golden Torc
        Space Opera: Deathstalker
        Vaguely Romantic Urban Fantasy: Drinking Midnight Wine

        But don’t worry! No matter what you choose, you’ll get the full Simon R. Green experience, and eventually, he starts working in connections between EVERYTHING. It all ties together in unexpected ways. But in terms of character depth, sheer madness, plot, awesomeness, and all the things which matter, I can’t recommend Blue Moon Rising enough as a Your First Simon R. Green Book.

        And now I shut up. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Marie Brennan

          It was the Nightside thing on my wishlist, so I was intending to start with that — but I’ll give Blue Moon Rising some thought.

          • shadowkindrd

            I highly recommend Drinking Midnight Wine. It does the split worlds things most excellently, which might be of some interest to you.

  23. rachelmanija

    Anne McCaffrey! Not only do I periodically re-read the first two Menolly books and Dragonflight and Dragonquest, but last year I wrote for Yuletide an epic fanfic in which Mirrim and Menolly save the world.

    I liked Menolly’s abused child angst, because hey, I was an abused child with angst, and I really needed a book that told me that it was possible to escape your abusers and horrible repressive environment and go somewhere where people would appreciate you for being exactly who you are. And as it turns out… that IS true.

    • Marie Brennan

      Menolly was my entry-point into Pern, before I ever read the original books.

      (And I might have had a brief crush on Piemur SHUT UP I WAS TWELVE.)

      • strangerian

        Oh, my, I’m *still* twelve (despite being mumblety-past-forty) for some kinds of crack. I was reading Dragonrider from the beginning, but Menolly and her trilogy were better.

  24. d_c_m

    Valdemar for the win! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  26. ailaes

    I have quite a few, hee.

    I’m not ashamed I’m also an Anita Blake fan. Though the last few books… I want my plot back darnit. Though supposedly she’s going to bring back Edward soon. โ™ฅ

    Though as you can no doubt tell from my icon, so much NOT THAT EDWARD. I refuse to get into a discussion about THAT BOOK, I have issues. So very many issues.Though I will admit to being in it for the snark and lulz. I mostly go to ‘s journal for all of that. Omg help, I can’t stop, it’s just too painful.

    MZB’s Avalon series. I know quite a lot of people can’t stand her with a fiery passion, yet Mists was a turning point for me. I go back and read all of them at least once a year.

    The Vampire Diaries. One of the first vampire books I owned, and the tv show is a goddamned trainwreck. One that just WILL. NOT. STOP.
    Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire books. Again – OMG TRAINWRECK.
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels. I mostly own ones written by Chris Golden and Nancy Holder. Recently found another one, actually, though I haven’t had time to read it yet. I’m not much for fanfic (not anymore anyway), yet I seem to have a soft spot when it comes to my Buffy.

    VC Andrews and Danielle Steele. DON’T JUDGE ME. I tried Nora Roberts, and while I like some of her plots, I jsut… yeah. I’ll come out and say it though – if you’re going to write a sex scene, please, for the love of all romance writers, don’t give me that crap. Make it graphic. All the innuendo, it hurts my brain.

    Dan Brown, Phillipa Gregory, and because it has to be said – HARRY POTTER.

    Ok, I’m done, heh.

    ETA: FEAR STREET. They are so very very hokey now, but OMG. I still luff them. I can’t help it.

    • rabidfangurl

      If you want to give Nora Roberts another shot (and read sexier sex), try the books she writes as J.D. Robb. I can’t stand romance novels, but the In Death series are great police procedurals with a side of hot sexxing. And snark, don’t forget the snark.

      • wendelah1

        try the books she writes as J.D. Robb. I can’t stand romance novels, but the In Death series are great police procedurals with a side of hot sexxing. And snark, don’t forget the snark.

        These sound great.

      • ailaes

        I’m also not really into romance, but if you’re going to insert (no pun intended) a sex scene, do it right. I may try that, thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, not THAT Edward. And I’m a little afraid of what will happen if Hamilton does bring him back; I’m probably better off just sticking with my decision to quit the series.

      (As for THAT Edward, yeah, I’m in it for the lulz. Haven’t read the books, but I read Cleolinda’s stuff about them.)

  27. Anonymous

    I got nothin’ for London, a city in which I have spent about 36 hours total, but I do have a recommendation for Paris: visit the chateau de Vincennes and the bois de Vincennes.

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