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Is Fantasy really doomed to die?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Amanita, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    I’ve been reading the two recent articles on the main page and I think quite a few things in there are worthy of discussion but maybe the comment section isn’t the right place for this.

    Both articles talk about the ”ždeath of fantasy“ but is fantasy really a genre which is terminally ill?
    There are the extremely popular YA stories like Harry Potter and Twilight with some others which are quite popular as well, there are popular ”žtraditional works“ like those of Jordan, Goodkind or Paolini even though the quality of the latter might be up to debate and there are well-known series of darker and more realistic fantasy written by Abercrombie or Martin. These are only the most popular works and in my opinion they’re already covering a vast range of different interests and there’s much more around.
    Therefore my question: Why are you so worried about the future of fantasy? At least to me it rather seems as if the whole genre with its various facets had grown way more popular in recent times.

    To comment on another point raised: Does brain matter splattering across the page really make a book better or does it need this kind of thing to be suitable for adults? Personally, I don’t think so. Often, it doesn’t even make much sense with the chosen view-point. Would a soldier really stay and watch the details of his enemy’s gruesome death rather than turning to the next enemy? Why should we as the readers?
    As strange as it sounds, but I tend to get quickly bored with long-winded descriptions of violence. One example I really hate is the mad torturer who sees breaking his victim’s bones one by one as an art and tells us about it delightedly.
    Where are the rational torturers who do what they’re doing to achieve their goals? And where are the consequences of the torture in the surviving victim? This is a matter hardly ever explored in fantasy, the only crime that might have consequences for the victim is rape. (Maybe because the victims in this case tend to be women and not The Hero ;))

    I like many of the stories featuring and being geared at young people and I also like many of the others, especially if they’re covering an interesting subject. My ideas also go into both directions and I see nothing wrong with both kinds of books being published.
    The fact that authors who try to make their books accessible for as many people as possible sell more books than those who exclude large groups of possible readers to tend to other people’s pride seems rather obvious to me. That doesn’t mean that the others don’t sell their books, but it may mean that they don’t make it to the front pages of the news.

    Other commenters as visible a few threads below actually fear that too many dark and cruel books are the death of fantasy, which I’m not afraid of either.
  2. I'm really glad the article (and the one before it) are causing an awareness and sparking discussion. But let me clarify -

    I don't think the genre of Fantasy is dying. In fact, I know it to be thriving, both via observation in society, schools, and bookstores, but more importantly in easily researchable statistics.

    But, Fantasy if thriving on YA peices. My struggle is two-fold. First, the goal of explaining and expanding the concept and defintion of Epic/High Fantasy. Second, to define what it is that sets the two apart. In no way am I an opponent of YA. I read and absolutely love many YA pieces. But my true favorites might fall in the at 'Epic' sub-genre that I see as a dwindling breed in the face of YA.

    I don't prefer the mentioned 'dark and cruel', but I do prefer the sub-genre of Epic over YA; it is that distinction that I see as obvious and that I see as a threat to Epic.

    Fantasy as a whole lives and breaths more now than ever.
    A.J. likes this.
  3. CicadaGrrl

    CicadaGrrl Troubadour

    I agree! Fantasy has been thriving lately. All the sudden it isn't just us nerds. Everyone is reading fantasy, watching fantasy, gaming fantasy. I'd actually say we are in a renaissance. Yeah--all the old genre and subgenre rules are going out the window, but I sincerely appreciate this.

    As for graphic violence: I hate torture scenes. I understand they may be necc. to some book plots, but I would never write it. Too often it feels like the author jacking off into the intestines of their character. It really turns me off.

    However--I write graphic violence. I do not go on and on about it. It happens fast. It is action, reaction, move on. Most of the description happens when the fight is over and the character has time to reaction to what they have done--to the death around them. I like using blood, guts, bile, half digested food and people losing control of their bowels when they die. Why? Because death is awful. Esp. violent death. It is disgusting. It is sickening to every single sense. The fact that my character killed someone--I want them to feel that. Every death, you die a little. My characters are not, in general, battle veterans or people who enjoy violence. The are sick and horrified about what they have done, and all the senses, memories, etc. after it occurs. I'm not trying to focus on violence as something artistic and interesting. I want you to feel like vomiting. Doing anything else is irresponsible to me.
    fantasyflirt and Ronald T. like this.
  4. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I think fantasy is thriving.
    I agree the strongest area of growth is young adult. (HP)

    But I think this goes in cycles. I think adult fantasy lovers read YA fantasy as well as adult fantasy.

    I think there is room for all aspects of fantasy. Blood and guts spattering the walls on every page might sell to one group. Epic tales, like LOTR, will appeal to others. I also believe there is a group of people out there that would love to read a story that isn't world altering or some legendary hero(epic).

    I doubt fantasy will ever die.
  5. Let's hope not; for if it does, then we will also see firsthand the destructive nature of THE NOTHING.

    Come on guys. Who is old enough to understand what the heck I just said? What movie is focused on the theme of dying fantasy and dreams?

    Another hint; my German Shepherd is named Atreyu.
    thedarknessrising likes this.
  6. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    I've actually read the book. How old does this make me?:D
  7. To the winch, wench!

    Name that actor who said that Map (It is a line from your movie)
  8. Kate

    Kate Troubadour

    I think we're safe, so relax. As has been mentioned above, genre popularity is a cyclical thing. Fantasy is hot now - I think that has a lot to do with developments in digital cinema in the last decade or so... before then it was really hard to actualise good fantasy on the screen (not impossible, a perfect example has also been referenced above!).. among other things.

    I had the opportunity recently to visit Galaxy, a fantasy/sci-fi dedicated bookshop in Sydney, Australia, and spent a good while browsing around. The sheer scope of works, and this is just in the fantasy section, was absolutely mind-boggling. So many concepts I'd never of dreamed of (and authors I've never heard of). It all just reminded me how HUGE the culture is. So even if the current popular trend dies off into something different, fantasy, I'm certain is not doomed to die.

    Has there ever been a genre that has "died"?
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    Westerns. They still have a small slice of the market, very small but a shadow of what it once was.
  10. Engywook (character) played by Sydney Bromley (actor).
  11. Good job... I was actualy wrong, I thought it was Billy Crystal. I think my wife put that idea in my head. Thank goodness for IMDB
  12. Kate

    Kate Troubadour

    The western is still around though, so it hasn't died, merely quiet.
  13. A funny and somewhat similar character was Miracle Max (played by Billy Crystal) in the Princess Bride.
  14. Love that movie... That is probably where the confusion comes from.
  15. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

    I don't think fantasy will die, but I can understand the fear. When I think of fantasy dying, I don't think really about the darkness and violence in the newer books. What I think endangers fantasy is the cookie-cutter fantasy (but this could just be me picking up all the wrong books). Same plot, different variations. A certain scenario sells and everyone produces one just like it with slight variations to call it different. There doesn't seem to be any book coming out that is original. So many people borrow elves and dwarves and orcs and only make slight changes to the races. Like they use those cliche races simply because they won't have to put any thought into creating new ones.
  16. Matty Lee

    Matty Lee Scribe

    Fantasy isn't doing too bad. Look at YA sales, and GRRM has a HBO show after his mammoth series that is actually doing well. Fantasy is doing fine. It's old fashioned "High Fantasy" which seems to be to be digressing into "Forgotten Relams" rewrites. There's nothing wrong with "Forgotten Relams" but Epic/High Fantasy isn't being done as much as it should. It's too useful a genre to be disposed of.
  17. Edgemaker

    Edgemaker Scribe

    I would hope that Fantasy is not dying, But I think a bigger question is: "Is Imagination dying?" I think that if Imagination dies then fantasy is just a result. The other day my little brother was forced out of the house to go and play because he spent too much time in front of the TV and the computer, and I decided to go out with him. I found him outside standing and looking at the woods which are about 20 feet from our house. When he saw me he asked me "now what do I do?" This surprised me incredibly because my little brother is about 13 years old with what I thought was a fertile imagination. When Kids forget how to go out and play Make believe then I think that will kill Fantasy.
  18. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

    That's really sad, Edgemaker. I used to have those sorts of bouts when I was a kid, but if you are forced from the house and the tv often enough, you find things to do. Luckily, me and my 3 siblings lost that dependency on the TV/internet. The funny thing is how much fantasy requires creativity and the imagination. Sure, you need creativity to write any sort of story, but because fantasy is entirely unrealistic and made of pure imagination, if people stop using their creativity, it dies... or fails miserably and ends up cookie-cutter fantasy no one really likes to read.
  19. Edgemaker

    Edgemaker Scribe

    Right now I still think Fantasy is feeding off of the model of Tolkien, with mixes of Dungeons and Dragons. There was one story called Adventurers wanted: Slathbogs Gold, and I felt that I was reading the script for a Video Game rather than real fantasy I forget who the author is though.
  20. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I think fantasy as we know it is slowly dying. I'm not really sure if that's a bad thing. Endless Tolkien clones don't really do it for me anymore (although Tolkien is great).

    I think the use of dragons, knights, goblins, and the like can be good, if the writer is good. George R.R. Martin actually uses a lot of cliches in his writing, but he's a good writer so he can get away with it.

    I personally would like to see more fantasy borrow from old mythology and history or just create all new creatures (having a ugly, dirty, pointed eared, bald, slobbering creature and calling it a "slabberkin" doesn't fool people, it's a goblin/orc).

    I like to refer to China Mieville because he has created interesting, new worlds without borrowing too heavily from the Tolkien model. People like familiar stories too much, so people created them for a long time. But I think the days of "old school" fantasy are dwindling down. Mainly because the authors that are writing this kind of stuff are hacks.

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