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Customer Discussions > fantasy discussion forum

Why fantasy gets derided - an answer.


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Showing 201-225 of 321 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2012 22:11:53 BDT
Anita says:
That's exactly my point...

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2012 22:18:08 BDT
Jim Webster says:
Large organisations can be like that. They are never a fault, it's your fault because you don't happen to live where they sent the package to.

Posted on 9 Jun 2012 22:13:37 BDT
A. Barrett says:
I have to agree with some of the comments that some fantasy 'epics' only get the name because they cover several volumes, rendering much of the story bloated and unreadable. The Wheel of Time is the worst offender for this.

I first started reading them in the early nineties when I was a teenager. The first few books were a cut above the average fantasy fare. Then Jordan has to add yet another continent and more characters, as if the series didn't have enough. I gave up at this point and moved on to the more readable David and Leigh Eddings. I admit, they cover several volumes, but at least they have a conclusion and don't bombard the reader with too much information they have to remember in ten books time.

Snobbery is rife when it comes to the fantasy genre. I've lost count how many people over the years who have spoken to me in a superior sneering tone to read something 'better'. Their idea of better is reading some seventeenth century author whose prose is often unreadable. I have a diverse library, filled with fiction and non-fiction alike. I still have a job convincing people that I read more than just fantasy; I suppose they view it as stigmata when they see you with just one fantasy novel and their opinion sticks. They often don't like my replying tone where I tell them where to stick their opinion.

For me , the gateway novels to the Fantasy genre were the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy. This is fantasy writing at its best.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 06:53:55 BDT
J.Yasimoto says:
It's interesting you should mention the Dragonlance Chronicles. They are also a favourite of mine, but they're not very well written. So I've been wondering why they're so well loved.

I think the problem is a lot of critics judge fantasy by the quality of writing and nothing else. When actually, the fantasy author has to have more skills than simply being a good wordsmith. Imagination, world building, back history are important, but they all contribute to transporting the reader into another world.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 07:12:00 BDT
Jim Webster says:
The 'problem' for critics is that the imagination, world building and back history are very subjective. I suspect that to get the best out of them you may need a lot of imagination.

So one person might read something, rave about it and say that 'this book is magical' and mean it.
Another might be constantly dropped out of the book as they hit yet another piece of bad prose

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 10:44:01 BDT
P. Griffin says:
Indeed it is the general consensus amongst those that shy away from the genre that fantasy contains few exceptional wordsmiths. Are there any writers in the eighty-ninety odd years that the genre has been developing that one could honestly argue to be on par with the best? Any who can be regarded as equivalent to Steinbeck, Chekhov, Faulkner and Hemmingway? Of course not. Because the genre promotes the fantasy elements before all others. And speaking from personal experience I find the genre too stifling to be comfortable exploring the human condition. The pressure to be imaginative comes at a cost.
Yet fantasy as a genre has not progressed enough to allow that style of inclusivity. It inhibits because it maintains a stricter ruleset than literary fiction or thrillers (not stricter than chick-lit of course.) The readers are conditioned, the agents and publishers are conditioned. And alas so too the writers. Ironic that the genre appears condemned to copy the titular behaviour in: 'The worm Ouroboros'.
It eats itself, remakes itself and eats its children. I fear that will not change.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 11:06:14 BDT
Garscadden says:
I would argue Gaiman is up there with those gentlemen. There are others I may include - Le Guin. If we were to include Sci Fi (and I'm not, as I do get all picky about keeping Sci Fi and Fantasy separate), then there'd be a few more names I'd suggest. Or at least one anyway.

I don't read a huge amount of fantasy, but that which I do seems to place character over imagination (Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan would be two examples that this is true of, in my opinion).

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 11:17:06 BDT
Jim Webster says:
I've read a little Hemmingway and Steinbeck and have never gone back to read more, whereas Jack Vance I have tried to buy everything he has written :-)
The problem is that if you like Hemmingway, you probably aren't going to enjoy Tolkien, or the Dragon Lance chronicles. The opposite is also likely to be true.
However Hemmingway is 'a literary great', he must be, all those wise people tell us he is.
Actually I'd hold up Dickens as a great writer. Yet he was a hack writer, The Pickwick Papers was produced to be sold in episodes. He was regarded as a commercially astute penny dreadful writer in his day.

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 11:26:14 BDT
Anita says:
I'd vote for Faulkner....... and Le Guin too

(There are some - not many, perhaps - names in science fiction that, I think, should be mentioned among greats in *literature*, not just science fiction literature, pardon the phrase. Not a huge expert of fantasy there, though)

(Never managed to get into Dickens - sorry, Jim and every British classics fan... :) )

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 11:29:32 BDT
Garscadden says:
I should have added to my post - in my opinion:
Hemingway - god
Steinbeck - never really got that much from him
Tolkien - I wouldn't want to read his shopping list, let alone a book

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 11:30:09 BDT
Garscadden says:
Dickens isn't very good - you aren't missing much.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 11:31:40 BDT
Jim Webster says:
Dickens is an entirely acquired taste. What people don't realise is that he has a streak of humour running through some of his works which is very English and understated.
Some of his stuff I'll not bother to read. But in Pickwick Papers he almost single handedly invented the English Christmas :-)
But frankly a lot of it is pure and unadulterated snobbery. The argument seems to run "I was brought up to like author X, and because I am a well educated person author X must be fine literature."
"Author Y I do not like, and as he sells quite well his readers must be ignorant scruffy oiks. The saving grace of author Y is that when the ignorant buy his books, they have less money to spend on glue for sniffing"
I exaggerate for artist purposes obviously :-)

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 11:59:23 BDT
Anita says:
All right, I'm not English, so my education in English classics is patchy at best. Dickens - nothing beyond Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, but I still remember DC's handkerchiefs soaked with tears and being dried on horsebacks (something like that), sorry, I don't want more of that, ever.

Same goes for Jane Eyre (starting to feel like a culprit now).

Loved The Moonstone, though........

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 12:04:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2012 12:19:22 BDT
Anita says:
P.S. Someone as Barrington J. Bayley should be mentioned as a writer first, and only then as SF writer, still, it seems he's not very well known even at home. Anyone?

[EDIT] Not fantasy, sorry. Nevermind

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 12:23:28 BDT
Jim Webster says:
David Copperfield and Great Expectations are two books I had inflicted on me at school so will probably never read again.
Dickens wrote for his audience who liked that sort of stuff.
Ironically Pickwick Papers, which was 'hack work' in its day, has had a greater cultural effect

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 12:49:01 BDT
Anita says:
Jim - I want my no-voter back!

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 13:08:07 BDT
Anita says:
Thank you :)

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:36:56 BDT
It's unfair to refer to Dickens as a "penny dreadful" writer, Jim. The penny dreadfuls were a very specific type of magazine, whereas Dickens was writing for much more prestigious papers. A number of Rider Haggard's novels were also serialised ... in the same types of publication as the Strand Magazine, where Conan Doyle's stories were printed.

That said, it is true that Dickens was a hack writer. But his subject matter and literary style were much more elevated than the penny dreadfuls.

(I'm no great champion of Dickens, by the way - just can't get into him. But it's only fair to give him the credit that's due.)

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:37:40 BDT
I've read Tolkien's shopping lists. They're very good ... :)

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:41:15 BDT
Jim Webster says:
especially the one from the bank holiday weekend.
I found it strangely moving

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:42:35 BDT
Although I didn't know that Waitrose sold Mithril. I only have a Sainsbury's local to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:46:19 BDT
Jim Webster says:
true, the term 'penny dreadful' has, like the penny, been devalued. They were aimed at 'working class adolescents boys' a group of people who we struggle to get to read at all in these enlightened times. Apparently Sexton Blake is one of the characters who sprang from the Penny Dreadful.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 13:49:04 BDT
I didn't realise that about Sexton Blake. Interesting.

Does that mean that the Daily Mail is a penny dreadful? It's certainly been devalued; after all, Harmsworth said that it was "the penny newspaper for one halfpenny", and it is dreadful ...

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 14:12:19 BDT
Garscadden says:
I do love that our Christmas is pretty much a Dickens invention, with latter additions by Coca Cola I believe.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 14:24:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2012 14:25:44 BDT
Yeh Santa wears red and white from the Coke advert in 1910, I'm told.

As for great writers, I think it depends on what you want from a book. I think there are few people who can touch Wodehouse, Wilde or Pratchett, I can see that Hemingway writes beautifully but I prefer something lighter. I just can't be arsed to wade through proper literature. I like things that are witty, clever and funny.

I'm vacuous, I know.

cheers

MTM
Edited to remove trypos, there is too much cat hair under this keyboard, I have to hammer the thing to get some letters to register.
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Discussion in:  fantasy discussion forum
Participants:  32
Total posts:  321
Initial post:  6 Apr 2012
Latest post:  21 Jun 2012

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