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Making Fairies a Legitimate Race

Discussion in 'Research' started by Taytortots, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Well, or science generally. The problem is that the above definition presupposes that what's under discussion are also considered "persons"–a realm usually limited to the human (as far as dictionaries go: limiting "person" thus doesn't work quite as well in fantasy/SF where sentient non-humans are involved). Though more to the point:

    Yes, that's Wikipedia. It's late and I'm tired. Sue me. I did double-check my Webster's; the non-human biological usage didn't show up until the fifth item down… and it still was quite clear that "races" are subspecies, no matter what's being referred to.

    So for the nitpicker at least, no, orcs and fairies aren't "races," they're "species." Traditionally, vampires and werewolves are neither race nor species, as they tend to be isolated individuals who don't share genetics… though they might in more recent works.

    For more practical purposes–e.g. fantasy writing–it's unlikely to matter, and calling sentient non-humans "species" instead of "races" would probably be jarring to most readers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  2. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Sage

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    That's certainly what I was saying!
     
  3. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    My pocket dictionary has this definition - Race: A breed or class of individuals similar in appearance.



    I don't really think it matters which you chose.



    However, if I read "Species" I'm going to think Dolphins, Turtles, Cats, Dogs, Pine trees, Vampiers, werefolk etc etc.
     
  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Exactly. (Though I'd still balk at referring to vampires or weres as either "race" or "species.") Even traditional translations of, say, Scandinavian material refer to the "races" of dwarves, elves, etc. It's a long-standing practice to refer to non-human sapients as "races," technical considerations notwithstanding. That doesn't mean it's correct, necessarily: if these aren't separate species, they ought to be able to interbreed. (Which makes Tolkien's use of "half-elves" interesting–as well as the "half-orcs," if that's what they really were… though note that none of the other races can interbreed, as far as we're told. No "half-dwarves" or "half-halflings"–"quarterlings"? "three-quarterlings"?–for instance. One might contemplate what a "dwobbit" would be like.… :p ) But I'm pretty sure that, as mentioned, most readers would be puzzled or put off by referring to these as "species" rather than "races." So stick with that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  5. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    For me I thought that races in fantasy meant that interbreeding could happen, making them races as opposed to species which can't interbreed. A fairy/dwarf or fairy/orc or even fairy/giant cross (don't even want to know how that one would happen).

    I don't plan on using fairies in my stories, ever, so have this idea: fairies have a collective consciousness, and exist in colonies with a separate queen for each colony.

    Sent from my Blade using Forum Runner
     
  6. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

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    I think what could be a great idea is if you originally had your faeries be the big bad Fae of folklore... only to be diminished/weakened magically to the sprites/pixies of today. Maybe they're a bitter race, as they aren't as strong or big. Maybe they take their beauty for granted, and when they see humans are utterly repulsed and stay away from them because of it.

    Note: Faeries and iron don't get along very well. In the Sookie Stackhouse [sp?] series, I'm pretty sure citrus was a weakness of theirs too... and their blood was like a drug to vamps.
     
  7. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    the intensity of your language and the choice of words,plus the dialogue and situation makes it real and plausible not the fact they are fearies
     
  8. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    Shasjas, it is certainly true that the word "fairy" can bring up childish connotations, but on the other hand, one story can cause a massive paradigm shift in the fantasy world. Before Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and LOTR, elves were considered to be tiny little trouble-making (or toy making) creatures. Tolkien turned them into a noble race and pioneered the concept of elves as they exist in the fantasy world today. Interestingly enough, though, Tolkien at first wanted to call the elves "gnomes" (not joking).

    If word "fairy" is too much of a complication for you, Taytortots, then you might consider the Old English spelling of "faery" to distinguish your idea of fairies from the standard notion. Keep in mind though the way an author can revolutionize a concept. Before Stephanie Meyer, vampires were not glittery; her writing placed an entirely new (and awful, in my opinion) spin on the vamp world as we know it.

    If you can maintain the dignity of your vampires and werewolves then I'm sure you can defend the legitimacy of fairies. I'd love to hear more about how they play into your story.
     
  9. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    I whole heartedly second this motion! Fairies do not get enough limelight--and a fresh spin on them, something to revolutionize the way we perceive them, would be awesome. Creatures like fairies and unicorns are often seen as frivolous--I'd love to see them given a bit of an edge (i.e., not the kind of fairies and unicorns in the toy store's Barbie aisle!).
     
  10. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    You'd like my WIP. The faeries are TWISTED. :alien:
     
  11. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

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    Faeries already have a bit of an edge, guys. =/
    Does no one know of War for the Oaks? The Wicked Lovely series? Tithe? I know there are LOADS more, but faeries being the Fae/Sidhe isn't exactly news in the fantasy industry, ESPECIALLY in the young adult section.
     
  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    A few suggestions off the top of my head:
    -Make them into energy beings
    -Give them the power to change size and form at will, i.e. being small isn't their "true" form, they just assume that form because it's convenient or more efficient and allows them to put more of their energy into magic and less of it into maintaining a larger size body
    -Give them a strong cultural background, maybe mixing in some traits traditionally assumed by elves...or dwarves for that matter.
    -Take some inspiration from Greek nature spirits like dryads and naiads.
    -Give thought to how such a race would govern themselves, and what their moral code and taboos would be.
    -Give them a new name. Underworld's werewolves benefited greatly from being called "Lycans" instead. (Or at least I think so. "Lycan" is short, easy to remember, and easier to take seriously than "werewolf" is, so it worked better with the quasi-science fiction theme.)
     
  13. Bersli

    Bersli Acolyte

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    if you don't think your fairies are baddass/cool/strong enough to not be a joke then you could take a leaf out of Shakespeare's book and make fairies ultra epic beings, able to use magic to turn invisible, see gods and the really powerful ones mess with he seasons when the get aggro (floods, famine, blizzards etc) and depending on how your book is set up you can either make them to be held in high esteem by other mortals (humanoid races or whatever) or they can be frowned upon (for example most humans in the storry may believe that they deserve to have epic power, or that beings with such power should be restrained)
    good luck!
     
  14. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    For me the issue is not that fairies are or aren't a legitimate race, its how well they fit with the other mythic races. Vampires and werewolves are considered solid and physical, and they can, at least in the former case, interbreed with humans. So this gives them some mythological background as a sort of human type race. The same applies to elves and dwarves and gnomes, and most of the others from Tolkein etc. They can all be viewed as sort of strange people with strange features and magic, which lends them a certain believability.

    Fairies though, they cross that boundary between being a mythical humanoid for want of a better word, race, and being something completely fanciful. They aren't really 'special people', they are something other.

    So if you want to write them in a book with other mythological humanoid races or even adult humans you have to write them in one of two ways. You either have to humanize them a bit, so no more six inches tall and gossimer wings, fluttering around like insects, they have to become some sort of credible variant of humanity, i.e. a height that people can accept as being sort of human and traits that while different aren't entirely implausible for a human hybrid etc. The other option is to play them as something truly non human. Not human and not a variation of elf or what have you, but something completely other.

    And then of course you have to try and move past the childlike connotations of Tinkerbell and Disney fairies, if you want to put them in a book with dwarves and elves having genuine human type serious issues to deal with.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

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    Of course faeries are a legitimate 'race.' I guess your folklore might be a bit different in America but in Britain faeries or 'the feeorin' as they were referred to in Lancashire is a generic term for a race of folk closely connected with nature. Their existence is evidenced in local place names like 'Fairy Holes' and 'Fairy Lane.' Their sometimes nastier kindred, boggarts, in places like 'boggart's hole clough.'

    According to one of our local legends two men were walking home drunk down Fairy Lane when they heard church bells tolling twelve times. They saw a parade of little people carrying a coffin. In the coffin was the body of one of the men. He died soon afterward. Powerful magic. Not to be messed with.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  16. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I know it sounds like a light bulb joke, but just how many fairies does it take to carry a coffin with an actual human body in it? I'm trying to picture hundreds of six inch high, gossamar winged creatures lifting aloft a coffin and failing. Also, and I know this may be upsetting to some, what if the body shifted inthe coffin or someone tripped while carrying it, would the other fairies be squashed? Fairy paste?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  17. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

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    Um, the coffin and the body were miniatures, to match the faeries. I should have made that clearer :)
     
  18. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I have faeries in my books...well, I suppose I should say I have the faerie races. I do not have a single race called "faeries" but rather dozens of races filling every niche I want them to. In fact, I combined a lot of the myths involving angels and demons into my faeries as well.

    I introduce them with a couple powerful NPCs that I call "the Three Shepherds". They act like the Norns or Fates of Norse or Greek myths. They are very mystical, but tangible.
     
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    To me, "fairies" and "Fae" invoke completely different images. Fairies are the tiny, twinkly Tinkerbell type, while Fae are the more sinister, closer-to-human-sized Sidhe and others. I much prefer the proud, beautiful, dangerous Fae to the pretty glittery fairies.
     
  20. PrincessaMiranda

    PrincessaMiranda Troubadour

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    I agree, the Fae are very formidable. If you want you can make them change shape. Brian Froud (The guy who did LAbyrinth and the Dark Crystal <3 ) describes them as fluid beings, of odd fluid shapes. They don't really belong to this world.

    Though, if you want more modern glittery fairies, go for it. The best thing about them is the element of surprise. No one expects a three inch high creature to throw a flaming ball of pure death at them. :D
     
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