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Ms Friedman writes long (500+ pages) novels that are not light reading. Each one explores a major theme and several subthemes. Black Sun Rising for instance, explores the duality of evil & morality using the subthemes of religion, faith vs. science, and man's need for control. Characters and the worlds they inhabit, though richly detailed and developed, are on certain levels just tools she uses to examine and probe the major theme she is exploring. Each book can be read on one or more of these levels. In Conquest Born can be read as a simple space opera about combating generals, but it can also be read as a discussion on how men compete with each other, or on the nature of aggressive behavior, or even as an examination of the role of women in human society.
World building is another strength. This is especially apparent with In Conquest Born, where two diametrically opposed civilizations are created with incredible detail. And unlike most authors who describe a universe in the first few chapters and never bother to develop it again, Friedman is constantly providing insight into the workings of the cultures in which her characters live. It is a style similar to Marrion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, wherein the culture of the protagonists is just as carefully depicted as the people themselves, to the point where the setting becomes a character in its own right.
She has a penchant (and skill) for indirect writing. This is where a chapter outwardly written about a minor character is really meant to provide through an indirect view insights into a major character's behavior or background, and thus, his motivations. The second chapter of The Madness Season not only introduces us to Marra, but also depicts the Tyr from a second point of view completely different from that of Daetrin. By examining a subject from multiple vantage points, we get a greater insight into that subject than if told strictly from first person.
She is a patient storyteller who is a master at creating a scene visually in the mind's eye. Take for instance the opening of In Conquest Born:
Her books are so rich in detail and layers of meaning that it takes more than one reading to be able to pick up on all of the subtleties. These books are a must for any serious reader.
Fan Fiction - Her views
"While it's generally accepted practice for fans to write stuff based on works they like, there is a somewhat thin line between what is acceptable practice and what isn't, and publishing or posting a work for public dissemination can cross that line. It's *always* a good idea to write an author and ask for permission before posting or printing something based on their work; even if nothing is wrong with it, it's an excellent goodwill gesture and they may give you guidelines on where rights will or will not come into play in the future....not to mention it covers your ass if the author has a bad hair day later and decides to be unpleasant about something. :-)
Paul Hoeffer has free reign to post anything he likes regarding my work, including fan art and fiction, and that's a good place to put it if you want other fans to see it. Paul consults with me on any disclaimers that might need to be posted along with the work, to make sure that someone doesn't copy it and do things with it you and I wouldn't like, or on information that needs to be passed on to the writer. A general guideline is: you shouldn't do anything with written material that makes money for you or anyone else without the author's permission, it has to be clear somehow that this is fan work and not anything associated with the author's writing (being on a fan page or in a fanzine makes it obvious, but giving out copies that might end up God knows where does not) , it likewise needs to be clear that the author has not "sanctioned" any of your storyline or other creations, and publishing or posting it has to not affect the sales of the author's work. If you satisfy these parameters, then getting permission to post or publish something is usually just a token effort, but it does show respect to an author that you care enough to ask, and makes them much more inclined to provide permissions for borderline rights stuff than they would be if they just happened upon your work by surprise one day :-) Especially on a bad hair day.
BTW, the companies that let you download author's works without paying the authors are being seriously sued. So that should not be taken as any indicator of what is legal or acceptable electronic practice."
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