Is the good ol' fantasy really dead? Really?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Prince_Kheldar, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    I think what gives A Song of Ice and Fire its real edge is that you never know who will survive. Any character, no matter how loved hated good or evil can die. It's something that in a traditional fantasy you don't get; you don't get that feeling that around the corner someone is going to die a horrible death and nothing can stop it. Something that in traditional fantasy tends to happen to the mentor only early on ;)

    But you get the same thing in Malazan Book of the Fallen and that world is so chock full of gods and powers and magical swords dragons and beasties that its overflowing!
     
  2. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    I think what gives A Song of Ice and Fire its real edge is that you never know who will survive. Any character, no matter how loved hated good or evil can die. It's something that in a traditional fantasy you don't get; you don't get that feeling that around the corner someone is going to die a horrible death and nothing can stop it. Something that in traditional fantasy tends to happen to the mentor only early on ;)

    But you get the same thing in Malazan Book of the Fallen and that world is so chock full of gods and powers and magical swords dragons and beasties that its overflowing!
     
  3. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    When whoever it was wrote that traditional fantasy is dead - or at least dying - he was engaging in wishful thinking. He doesn't like Tolkienesque fantasy and the new variety available in fantasy fiction gives him enough ammunition to believe the traditional stuff is dying. Not so. As long as there's indie publishing, someone who loves it will keep writing the old stuff.

    What a lot of people fail to notice, because GRRM hides it well, is that ASOIAF has an awful lot of traditional fantasy tropes, including swords and dragons, including a great war between Good and Evil (the Others vs we aren't sure yet, but someone representing fire, possibly Daenerys with her dragons) the Chosen One entering into an evil land to accomplish something great with magic (Bran Stark) and the return to the throne of a messianic figure (definitely Daenerys).

    Even those who claim not to like Tolkienesque fantasy reject it's trappings more than the core elements. They may not like elves or dwarves, but that's largely because everyone's elves and dwarves are the same. They may think dragons are corny, but only until they confronted with a slightly different one. In spite of their issues with the trappings, though, they respond to the core elements because those core elements are so deeply ingrained in the human subconscious. Those elements - which Joseph Campbell calls the Hero's Journey - are the core of fantasy dating back to the Gilgamesh, and won't go away.

    BTW, yes there is something seriously wrong with the forum software right now. Has anyone else noticed

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    Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at [path]/includes/class_core.php:5605) in [path]/includes/facebook/facebook.php on line 37


    at the top of this page? Possibly we're in need of a software update.
     
  4. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    When whoever it was wrote that traditional fantasy is dead - or at least dying - he was engaging in wishful thinking. He doesn't like Tolkienesque fantasy and the new variety available in fantasy fiction gives him enough ammunition to believe the traditional stuff is dying. Not so. As long as there's indie publishing, someone who loves it will keep writing the old stuff.

    What a lot of people fail to notice, because GRRM hides it well, is that ASOIAF has an awful lot of traditional fantasy tropes, including swords and dragons, including a great war between Good and Evil (the Others vs we aren't sure yet, but someone representing fire, possibly Daenerys with her dragons) the Chosen One entering into an evil land to accomplish something great with magic (Bran Stark) and the return to the throne of a messianic figure (definitely Daenerys).

    Even those who claim not to like Tolkienesque fantasy reject it's trappings more than the core elements. They may not like elves or dwarves, but that's largely because everyone's elves and dwarves are the same. They may think dragons are corny, but only until they confronted with a slightly different one. In spite of their issues with the trappings, though, they respond to the core elements because those core elements are so deeply ingrained in the human subconscious. Those elements - which Joseph Campbell calls the Hero's Journey - are the core of fantasy dating back to the Gilgamesh, and won't go away.

    BTW, yes there is something seriously wrong with the forum software right now. Has anyone else noticed

    Warning: Illegal string offset 'name' in [path]/includes/functions.php on line 6584

    Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at [path]/includes/class_core.php:5605) in [path]/includes/facebook/facebook.php on line 37


    at the top of this page? Possibly we're in need of a software update.
     
  5. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    Incidentally, in the article PK linked to at the beginning - which I skimmed, but didn't read - the author can't identify the difference between fantasy and horror. It's a simple difference. Fantasy has a happy ending (how will GRRM pull that off?) and horror doesn't.

    The author also makes no mention of the most important emotion that fantasy must evoke: wonder. If the reader doesn't say "Wow!" every so often you aren't doing is right. Depending on the subgenre, those wow moments are sometimes few and far between, but they're always present.
     
  6. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    Incidentally, in the article PK linked to at the beginning - which I skimmed, but didn't read - the author can't identify the difference between fantasy and horror. It's a simple difference. Fantasy has a happy ending (how will GRRM pull that off?) and horror doesn't.

    The author also makes no mention of the most important emotion that fantasy must evoke: wonder. If the reader doesn't say "Wow!" every so often you aren't doing is right. Depending on the subgenre, those wow moments are sometimes few and far between, but they're always present.
     
  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Long running fantasy series, or fiction lit of all kinds from Science Fiction to Mystery, American Gothic to Detective Noir, whatever the subgenre... are lacking a coherent narrative structure. The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings aren't just masterpieces of Fantasy, they're masterpieces of literature. Both are epic stories that have a narrative arc. What drives me crazy with today's modern fantasy is that neither the writer or publisher know when or how the story will end. As long as the series sells they keep pumping out books. Hell, Wheel of Time continued for so long that the writer finally died before finishing the story.

    It feels like we're being 'played' by these writers/publishers, and it's all about sales and market share, and of course movie deals.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  8. Prince_Kheldar

    Prince_Kheldar Beard Lover

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    *nods* there has to be an end to the stories. All the quests, the battles and the magic needs to have a purpose, and I need to know how it ends! I next to never start reading a book that has an infinite number of sequels not yet published. The exception being ASIOAF, because I was a fool once upon the time.
     
  9. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    I think it's more a matter of writers letting their stories run away with them. I've often had a character jump up and demand more POV scenes, just because that character was interesting. Publishers indulge some writers too much, Jordan and Martin among them. A greater sense of self discipline out of both writers would have made for much tighter story arcs.

    Sometimes a story will demand more space than you originally thought. About eighteen months ago I sat down to outline what I thought would be a 25- to 30,000-word novella. By the time I was done I had enough plot for three modest novels, about 100K each. The first draft came out to 306K in total, and I know from experience that the second draft will likely be around 360K. Since the growth of the story happened in the outlining stage, it wasn't a surprise. Writers who don't outline, and I believe that includes Martin, have a better excuse. Still, considering his experience, Martin should have better control over where his story goes.

    I know Jordan was an outliner, and I can't understand how the books got so far out of hand. He pitched it as a trilogy, and Tor knew he wrote long so they budgeted for six books, but no one expected fourteen. Martin, I know, planned seven books, and it looks like he'll be forced to pull it off at that length, even the publishers leave half the story on the cutting room floor.

    There's a difference between epic stories that get out of hand - WoT or ASoIaF - and endless episodic series, like the Drizzt tales or Leiber's Newhon stories. As long as each story can stand alone, and be read out of order, I have no problem with endless series. If the series forms a single cohesive story, then it has to be brought in on time and under budget or the writer just lost control of his story. As much as I love WoT, Jordan lost control of it.
     
  10. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Keep buying them then and they will be.

    Which is exactly why I quit reading them. I found them to be damaging to me and it actually made me physically ill to read them (which kind of killed the entertainment value of them for me). The underlying message I got out of them was that no matter what you do there is no hope anyway so you might as well just lay down and die. That didn't strike me as a particularly useful lesson to internalize....lol.


    At least we all have our own beliefs on what is valuable and what isn't. :)
    aaannndd... indie publishing is alive and well! Do you know there are books on wattpad with over 15 million reads on their counters?!?!?!!??


    Oh, I totally agree with you but it is the consumer who holds the real power in the end. :)
     
  11. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    I personally hope that the 'good ole fashion' fantasy never dies. while I do like seeing a bit of creativity when I start a new series, I also like finding a series with it's own world. I see fantasy as an escape. it allows you to experience a brand new world, which you probably wouldn't ever be able to experience any way else. the day tolkienesque fantasy is gone will be a sad day for me personally. I guess that could be because I love medieval history too. but hey whatever.

    live long good ole fantasy.
     
  12. ThePlatinumDragon

    ThePlatinumDragon Member

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    What it really boils down to is "what sells?" The Tolkien fantasy as we know it is sort of fading, not to the degree the person commenting said, but is on a decline. A Song of Ice and Fire is just blowing it away right now and when companies see this they want books of similar style and mood. I personally dislike the series for my own reasons but considering how much attention it has brought back to Fantasy, one has to give it credit and with that amount of attention people will look for the same high, if you will, from other books and so companies have to supply something that can get those folks attention. I saw the same thing when the Lord of the Rings movies dropped. The books took off and a lot more of the classic style of High Fantasy came out. I wish this sort of thing would happen with sword and sorcery. I'm a huge Conan fan and would love to see that genre make a comeback. My own wishes aside, I think High Fantasy will always have it`s place and live on but unless something brings it back in, it won't trend so much.
     
  13. Prince_Kheldar

    Prince_Kheldar Beard Lover

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    Have to correct myself! I meant that I hope this fantasy style WILL NOT be the norm in the future. And I am also a fan of Conan, and would like to see this comeback.

    And I guess as aspiring writers, it's really up to us to try and make it so. Whether it will sell and become something the audience will want to buy, will be exciting to find out.