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Books that Contributed Most to the Genre?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Devor, May 14, 2012.

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    As the title says, what books do you think contributed the most to the fantasy genre and why?

    Books like Dracula, and Frankenstein, and Lord of the Rings were all very different from the titles which came before them. But they're by no means the only ones, including several more recent books like Game of Thrones.

    So which books do you think continue to shape the genre?
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I like the ones you mentioned, Devor. Those were definitely important contributors.

    I think to find more you have to go back and look at what was seminal early on, post-Tolkien. Fritz Leiber, for example (fafhrd and Gray Mouser), Michael Moorcock (Elric, among others), Jack Vance (Dying Earth). These were important works of their time (and continue to be good), and were also shaping forces behind Dungeons and Dragons, which has heavily influenced a lot of modern Fantasy, in my view.

    Now you have authors like Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and George Martin pushing the genre in a more gritty direction (and I think you have to give props to Glen Cook for really being the first to do it with his Black Company books). It seems these "gritty" works are shaping the genre right now more than anything else.
     
  3. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    Lilith is a fantasy novel written by Scottish writer George MacDonald and first published in 1895. Its importance was recognized in its later revival in paperback by Ballantine Books as the fifth volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in September 1969.[1]

    Lilith is considered among the darkest of MacDonald's works, and among the most profound. It is a story concerning the nature of life, death, and salvation. In the story, MacDonald mentions a cosmic sleep that heals tortured souls, preceding the salvation of all. MacDonald was a Christian universalist, believing that all will eventually be saved. However, in this story, divine punishment is not taken lightly, and salvation is hard-won.
     
  4. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    Stephen Donaldson and Julian May, Aladin as a story
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Erikson, Abercrombie, Lynch, and Martin are writing the kind of fantasy that I wanted to read years ago and could never find. So I would say they are definitely filling a void that had been left open for quite some time. However, I think more writers are trending towards writing YA fantasy. They want to tap into that lucrative market that Harry Potter and Twilight have done.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    That's definitely true. Who are some of the other trendsetters with Young Adult fantasy?
     
  7. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    C.S. Lewis, if we head towards children's literature (which Harry Potter was, at least at first). Young Adult - the "teen" market - is rather new, so I don't know if there really are many great influences on the genre when it comes to the age group, specifically.

    In the loosest sense of the term 'book', can I toss a shout out to Gary Gygax? Dungeons & Dragons has a pretty powerful influence on modern fantasy, and the campaign guides are kind of books. Let's be honest, they've influenced more fantasy than a lot of the great authors ever did. Mervyn Peake might be considered a classic, but more people know what a D20 is than what Gormenghast is.
     
  8. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    Glen Cook definitely deserves credit. I think he was one of the first to really explore dark, crapsack worlds, which has influenced a lot of todays writers.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Is Young Adult really that new?

    Reading this thread, it feels like Fantasy is either dark and gritty, light kid's books, Dungeons and Dragons, and Young Adult melodrama. Is there anything in between? Who are the trendsetters there?

    I see people constantly refer to Lovecraft, but whenever I ask a question like this, nobody mentions him. Why is that?
     
  10. Kelise

    Kelise Maester

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    I'm not sure whether Young Adult is new, or if it's just changed - children and teenagers used to read books that 'only' adults would these days (generically), such as Lord of the Rings or David Eddings and Fiest, etc.

    These days they have light dystopian and paranormal romance that weren't as light and easy/quick to read. So... I would say times have simply changed - though my reading when I was younger was slightly different, as Australia has a fairly different market to US and UK and has only broadened with the use of the internet and buying overseas, so perhaps we only got the bigger names and the 20-year-old-YA-Dystopian never made it here.)
     
  11. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I believe the distinction of 'adolescent fiction' has been accepted by publishers since the 1920s or so. And the idea of being a 'YA' author seems very new; I've really only seen that trend emerge in the past couple of decades. Which in terms of literature is quite recent. Though many works of what were once called children's literature have been retroactively categorized as YA, so one could say it's existed all along.

    As for Lovecraft, people tend to think of him as the father of horror instead of fantasy and omit him from these sorts of lists. The Sliding Scale of Science Fiction and Fantasy really does need a third, Y-axis of sorts to accommodate for horror. SF-Horror: Zombie Apocalypses, some Dystopian fiction, mad scientists, etc.; Fantasy-Horror: Lovecraft, vampires, ghosts, werewolves. The three genres are very intertwined, but for reasons beyond me, they are generally kept separate when discussing any one of them individually.
     
  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    That makes a little sense, but it seems hard to deny that even if he wrote "horror," he's still influenced the fantasy genre. It wouldn't surprise me, but are there maybe Sci-Fi writers who have made similar contributions?
     
  13. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Certainly. I have read many fantasy stories that seem quite heavily inspired by Dune, and at least a few with a certain Ender's Game quality to them. William Gibson and his peers basically created steampunk for all that you can create such a thing, and many fantasy novels these days has at least a gear or an airship lying around. Many of fantasy's greatest writers are also science fiction writers, and a great deal of the science fiction I have personally read - and been influenced by - is by someone I knew first as a fantasy author. I absolutely adore China Mieville's Embassytown, and if you delve into the depths of the internet, you can find people arguing over whether Earthsea or TLHOD is Ursula K. LeGuin's best work. And the early science fiction - from Frankenstein to Jules Verne - is so poorly scientific by modern standards and often quite... flowery in its prose that you could argue its place in fantasy literature, as well.
     
    Devor likes this.
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Thanks Ophiucha, you've been a big help.

    I'm sure someone knows, but which is the book that started Urban fantasy?
     
  15. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Something by Charles de Lint, maybe?
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes. I'm thinking de Lint, Holdstock, Emma Bull.

    Probably one of the first books that hit a lot of the common elements of the current urban fantasies (private detectives and vampires) is Blood Price, by Tanya Huff. Published in 1991.
     
  17. charleshudgen

    charleshudgen Dreamer

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    The books that contributes to the fantasy novels are The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight.These are the books that gives big impact whether books and films. I would say that times may changed depending on the books and films. So, in my age I should say that these 3 books contributes more.
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Thanks for the reply, but does Twilight really have many original elements to it? I don't think popularity, in and of itself, is enough to really say that it contributed to the genre. There were a lot of vampire romances before Twilight. But I haven't read the books, and I've only seen a couple of the movies, so I'm not really sure. Are there a lot of original elements to Twilight? What are some of them?
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I don't know about original elements (apart from sparkling vampires, I can't really think of any). However, I do know some people who would never have read works that crossed into "fantasy" if they hadn't picked up that series. So while the creative contribution to the genre may not be significant, it is possible that the contribution in terms of new readers may be. I don't know how one would quantify that.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    This has been really useful, thanks everyone.
     
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