Monday, April 21, 2014

Jo Clayton, a master now gone

As a reading nut I have of course read or re-read many books over my fifty years.  I have been fighting with the nasty cold virus that is going around.  While I was not what I would consider awfully sick, I was pretty out of it for the past week.  Between congestion and coughing, it was of course hard to breath.  The worst part for me though was that as soon as I stood up it felt like I had been on a merry go round and let my eleven year old spin me around for an hour at hyperspeed.  In other words, I stood up and the world spun, I sat up the world spun, heck I lay on my back and the world spun.  Not a good thin for being a good and creative writer.  So I did what I do when I am sick.  I pulled out the work of authors I have loved reading over and over and over yet again.

Jo Clayton is one of my all time favorite authors.  She passed away back in 1998 but she was one of the ground breaking female science fiction authors who came out of the 60s and 70s.  Her Diadem of the Stars series, while nowadays would be considered novellas, were some of my first and favorite science fiction books.  She wrote strong female leads who go through all kinds of things and come out the other side stronger and wiser.  If not for writers like her all the strong women in fiction today would not exist.

My favorite of her characters was Shadith or Shadow.  She is the last surviving daughter of the Weaver of Shaylin.  A race long gone, as was her birth form.  She spent centuries as a collection of memories in the diadem before being released into a young woman's body by another of Ms Clayton's characters, Alyetes. 

She is a bard in the truest sense.  While she is a mischief maker who can't seem to stay out of trouble, she sees a culture different than her own as a place to learn and create.  And Ms Clayton populates her universe with so many varied races of beings. They are not all variations on human, like many science fiction worlds have been in the past.  They are feathered or have lizard skin, they are made of crystal or of an entire sentient world. They are rich in stories and that is what we read for.

She told stories of evil men and women in a time when complexity was not common.  The stories in her books always inspire me to write more and more.  I aim to some day write something as good as those books that I still read.

The sad part for me is that as far as i can tell her books have not been brought into the digital age.  Like a lot of the classic, well written fiction that came out before computers where popular, her books are still in paperback but they are not easy to get.  I looked her up on Amazon and found three being sold as used.  Three out of over thirty novels and the same number of short stories that are out there.

I no longer own the complete library of her books that I once did.  Another of the great loses that came from moving from one country to another.  Not that I would give up my very happy life now, but I do wish I had managed to keep those books.

And I now take it back.  I just put in Jo Clayton on Amazon and there are a lot more listed now. 

The books fo Jo Clayton

They are still paperbacks but you know what?  They are more than worth the read.  These books will give the reader something we all look for.  Rich and involved worlds with magic and music and science fiction combined into something unique and good.  Why not try one?  You can start with Diadem to the Stars or just pick Drinker of Souls.  These are full worlds with a lot of characters that are fully developed.

No comments:

Post a Comment