1. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Bad Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by GoldenGhost, Feb 8, 2012.

    As I am sure most of you know, Fantasy is the genre where a lot of bad writers get published and the craft most definitely does not shine with more and more authors aiming to aesthetically please their audience instead of writing well.

    So I pose two question for you: Which writers within this genre not only shatter this claim with their story but most importantly the craft itself? And which writers absolutely do an abyssmal job in both departments especially in the writing?

    -Ghost
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume that by that first question, you mean, "Who's actually pretty awesome?" I'm going to say that David Gemmell is brilliant, but, having read all of his fantasy (and most of his other stuff), pretty much all of it is the same. The Drenai series stuff is distinguishable, but everything else kind of merges together. His stories change but individual details merge together.

    Really, I'm highly against fantasy now. I can't even read it without noticing things that have been made absolutely horrible with way-too-common literary tropes. I started early with Fantasy and barely read anything else until I was about 15 or 16. When I finally sat down to read Lord of the Rings it just seemed derivative, and now people go on and on about the newest things. Eragon is terrible to me. The Hunger Games is overhyped and the society Collins describes in it comes off unrealistic and stupid to me.

    Really, more writers need to stop reading shitty fantasy novels and watching shitty fantasy movies and they need to start playing good fantasy games. A lot of the Final Fantasy series has brilliant stories and it mixes magic and science and a whole bunch of brilliant stuff. It all makes sense. It's refreshing (I'm not looking at you, though, Final Fantasy X and X-2).

    I'm pretty much just sick of fantasy authors who think fantasy is just swords and sorcery. David Gemmell creates brilliant societies that are either heavily based on Earth (since he writes in far-past/-future Earth) or entirely new and don't seem derivative at all. The best part of some of his fiction, I think, is his addition of guns and stuff like that. In fact, his Jon Shannow trilogy was spectacular because of that.

    As a last note in this semi-rant, I'm going to say that the worst part of fantasy is that there are stories out there with a brilliant basis, but a terrible execution.

    And that's given me enough fuel to go and get vaguely annoyed at all the fantasy writers out there.
     
  3. polorules
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    polorules New Member

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    hey, guys. i'm new here. so hi :D

    ok

    good fantasy to me is when the author creates an original, detailed world in which the story takes place. i loved fantasy as a child because i felt like i was entering another world.
    harry potter is very good. :D a lot of animal fantasy (such as watership down) is also good.
    and to the person above me, lord of the rings was the first modern fantasy. so it's not really derivative :(

    what happened to me, is i used to like fantasy, but then it became mostly the same. a poor boy/girl finds a dragon egg. there is an evil emperor guy. there are a lot of swords.
    i got sick of all of the stereotypes, so i started reading/watching the fantasy of japan, which is very different from ours because the culture if very different. there is no way you will find spirited away, nausicaa, akira, or mushishi overused or badly written.

    and i agree about eragon. o_O ugh. terrible. twilight is also pretty bad

    ps: do people here mind if i don't use capital letters when i write? i will if you mind. otherwise, i won't. it is a strange pet peeve
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    This post is entirely unrelated to the thread, but:
    ... yes. Yes, please use capitals in all the right locations. That is definitely something we want you to do. Punctuation and grammar are very nice things to have a good knowledge of. I know there are other members who are less inclined to use correct punctuation, but it's an appreciable skill.
     
  5. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Seconded. There really is no excuse for getting into bad, lazy writing habits, even on a forum. It irks me no end when people resort to txt spk or sloppy shorthand just because they can.

    Re the OP's questions: I'm not keen on fantasy either. There seems to be no end of high fantasy novels about wizards and dragons and they're all the same derivative drivel. Most of them display mediocre writing at best, and many of them are simply dreadful.

    I've read a couple of Guy Gavriel Kay novels (Lions of Al Rassan, Tigana), and they were pretty enjoyable, if predictable. But David Gemmel's Lion of Macedon was just the biggest pile of shite I've ever read.

    I much prefer watching fantasy to reading it though, and find some fantasy novels make much better films than they do books - LOTR is a prime example. I couldn't get through 10 pages of the book, but thought the films were fantastic.
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't read the Greek series. His ordinary fantasy (Drenai series, Rigante series, Jon Shannow trilogy) is pretty damn good, though, IMO. If you want proof that he can write brilliantly after having a bad experience, try Dark Moon. It was standalone and it was very different to most of his other stuff (it had the usual human-spirit-is-more-powerful-than-the-enemy theme, but that's to be expected from an author whose (awesome) first novel was written as an analogy about the cancer he had).
    Hell, his first novel, Legend, and the two novels that precede it in that part of the Drenai series (The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend and The Legend of Deathwalker) are particularly good. Druss is a brilliant main character. He almost seems clich├ęd, but he isn't. Or he is, but doesn't seem like it. One of those two.
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think George R.R. Martin's A song of ice and fire is some of the best fantasy out there. It's really fresh and unique. Sure it doesn't avoid all the fantasy cliches but it avoids more than most. It can be a bit slow paced especially in books 4 and 5, but I can deal with it.

    As for bad fantasy, well I hate to say it, but Wheel Of Time is of pretty low quality compared to some of the other stuff out there. It's incredibly slow paced (far slower than ASOIAF), the prose is either clunky or way too purple, and it's sooo derivative. I mean:

    The story takes place in an idyllic farming country, inhabited by a simple folk that see little of the outside world. At the beginning of the story the residents are preparing for an extravagant party with fireworks. However riders in black infiltrate the area and with the help of a person with magical powers the main character and his friends are forced to flee into the outside world.

    Now is that the beginning of LOTR or WOT? Seriously, almost everything in it has some sort of parallel to lotr. And I hate all that Ta'veren stuff.
     
  8. SecretNinja
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    SecretNinja New Member

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    A Song of Ice and Fire is amazing and addictive. To me, it is everything fantasy should be. The biggest problem in fantasy these days is not overusing its tropes.
     
  9. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    Personally I've never read LOTR, because I couldn't get past the first five pages. The way I read it, NOTHING was happening. I always heard the rule that you need to catch your reader by the first or second page, because that's generally all people read when they go to buy a book.
    Though I understand the "stereotype" thing, I did like Eragon. Reading the last book now. I guess the stereotypes come along because fantasy always seems to involve swords, magic, dragons and other mythical beasts, and almost always a world that is not Earth. And I think it's hard to differ fantasy and some sci-fi, because the two overlap so much. Apparently, Star Wars is consider sci-fi/fantasy. I could see how other stories might do that too. The movie Jumper comes to mind (if you've never seen it, its about people that can teleport anywhere in the world, and another group of people are hunting them).
     
  10. GoldenGhost
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    Does anyone have an opinion on David Eddings? Specifically his Belgariad/Mallorean and Elenium/Tamuli series of books? or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Deathgate cycle?
     
  11. Discordant
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    Discordant New Member

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    I wholeheartedly concur. I received the first book as a birthday present last year, and I cannot recall a gift that led to more enjoyment. I especially love that Martin is not afraid to (without warning) take away the characters he has made us grow to love. It's frustrating and even infuriating, but it moves me. For that refreshing change, I forgive him. :)
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    THIS times 8,547,247,990,087.

    While I found the LoTR movies groundbreaking and amazing, the book just wasn't my cup of tea because it was far too wordy and lengthy for my taste. It's already page 200-something before they even know they're taking the ring to Mordor.

    However, I still have respect for Tolkein overall, because he did something that so many fantasy writers today don't do -- actually created his own universe, his own fantasy life forms, his own storyline.

    I'm really sick of people ripping off of LOTR for every single story they write. LOTR is great, but has already been done - time to move on. If you want to use wizards, or elves, or goblins, fine, but make them your own. I'm also tired of reading stories that were written under the assumption that they HAD to be in a medieval setting, not because the story actually calls for it, but because "it's what you do."

    I'm writing a modern-times fantasy involving dimension travel (in a similar category to His Dark Materials, I guess) and I feel like every time I say I'm writing a fantasy, I have to explain in 2-3 sentences what kind it is because people otherwise people will just assume "swords, dragons and magic stones."

    By the way, I really enjoy His Dark Materials, as well as Harry Potter and THG. Anything by Holly Black is pretty good, in my opinion, too.
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not even magic stones. It's always (and sorry for the profanity), but it's ALWAYS fucking crystals. I know that, historically, crystals are supposedly good for enhancing magic power, blah blah blah, but jesus, we need something new.

    And yes, this is a great point. The problem with saying a "modern-times" fantasy is that my mind jumps to Harry Potter or, at most, Narnia. David Gemmell did stuff that was set in a time that had the technological equivalent of about the 1700s to 1800s and it was brilliant. The evolution of guns and stuff like that was added in really well to his fantasy. If that's the kind of stuff you mean (but more modern), awesome. =D
    I don't really like urban fantasy though, tbh.
     
  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good fantasy? That's an easy one.
    Let me start off by saying I feel real fantasy is hard to come by. It has to be masterful in its prose, ethereal in its experience, beautiful in its feeling, and interpretable as to have some meaning. Fantasy books like these make me think the of the word 'dream'.

    Good fantasy Lord Dunsany-King of Elfland's daughter.
    Mervyn Peake - Gormenghast
    TH White- Once and future King
    Jack Vance- Dying Earth (I don't consider it sci fi)
    Peter S Beagle- The Last Unicorn


    Most books people call fantasy are just forms of light pornography. I would say these authors are not dreaming but rather fantasizing. In my youth I have read wheel of time. I know the main character is a boring farm boy who gets into an affair with three beautiful women. I stopped reading with the introduction of girl on girl. I've never read Terry Brooks but every cover has a guy and a girl on it practically embracing. Every type of fantasy book Iv'e read like this has characters with angsty teen characters for added drama. Oh, and they're all beautiful. The storylines and settings are all rehashes of each other. What probably is even worse is that the books ultimately amount to nothing. That is, after the story is told there's nothing to take home.

    I wouldn't feel qualified to list the WORST fantasy books (though they're definitely in this definition of fantasy genre) but I can list a few of the better ones.

    Dragonlance by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman ( the first six) are cliche in every sense of the word and are guilty of most if not all of my above complaints. For the genre they still shine and the read is exciting and enjoyable. Also, if you're gonna make a cheap book. Might as well make it fast paced. They do.

    George RR Martin as someone else mentioned is pretty good. I'd say he's the christopher nolan of modern fantasy. Artistically and philosophically his books are not much deeper than other modern fantasies. But it is darker and grittier, the characters are better, and the plot is denser. You got to give him credit for that.
     
  15. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    It is funny you mention a modern day fantasy. I had an idea for a story, maybe a stand alone novel, about a middle/late aged teen (and excuse the lack of information for I have only brainstormed this story a tad a year or so ago) who discovers a powder of some sort ( I have entertained the idea of it being some type of chemical he ends up abusing and becomes addicted to) that transports him into an ulternate dimension, a utopia of sorts. And each time he uses this, the duration spent in this world becomes longer and longer. Meanwhile, everytime he travels, his body in real time goes on an auto-pilot mode. Where he has periods of blacking out and forgetting much of his experience in real life. The drama and confilct primarily being an internal one (with some insertions inside the world he travels to) and throughout the story he finds his real life dull and this other world so magical and so mystifying he eventually reaches a state where he cannot escape, thus creating a situation where he ends up fighting for his life. I must admit, I am not sure how good of an idea it is, the inspiration was from my own life and battle with addiction and came to me as I got sober, but it does go outside the box of typical fantasy.
     
  16. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds awesome, but it does have the problem that it can't really be played straight. I mean, any reader is going to look at that and be all, "Yeah, the fantasy world is obviously a hallucination." Like I said, sounds awesome, but it doesn't sound very good as fantasy, since, again, the fantasy elements can't really be played straight.
     
  17. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Well yeah the idea would be made obvious to the reader that it is a halucination of sorts even though there will be events inside the halucination that give it a realistic feel. The point of that being there will be serious consequences happening in real life as it spins out of control with a majority of the narrative being spent in real time.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    He could do it but you're right about the hallucination part. He'd have to explain how the chemical works and how his body could go on autopilot. It's pretty easy, actually. You could just say the drug speeds the synapses in the brain allowing for quantum effects, ultimately allowing him to see an alternate reality. He sees them both and his consciousness divides. You'd also have to explain why our world and the alternate one split on a quantum level. At this point you have a science fiction instead :)
     
  19. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    The inspiration for the chemical was DMT or Ayuasca (when brewed in tea) which does exactly that. transporting you instantly to 4D and beyond. So it would be easy to explain exactly what it does to the reader, even if I am making up a completely different reaction to the body and experience.

    The importance being his struggle hence why I would have the story told mostly in real time leading to eventually him finding himself stuck in his alternate reality with no way of escaping, at first.
     
  20. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    You wouldn't have to explain it. Plenty of people "black out" and forget everything that happens to them. If the body loses touch with its main senses, it has to substitute its own version of those senses. If the chemical thingy just cuts off sight and hearing and has the person black out, they could essentially enter a weird dream state, but their body could be reverted to some primal instincts based somewhere between the conscious mind and the subconscious. There are plenty of theories about things like that that might exist, so it's a plenty realistic idea.
     
  21. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Exactly.
     
  22. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want a good example of how well this can be done:
    Get a ping pong ball (orange) and cut it in half. Also have a red light on hand. Get a radio with headphones and tune it to a frequency that is only static. Tape the halves of the ping pong ball over your eyes (or secure them in some other way, I suppose) and point the red light at your head.

    Because of the way this blocks out your sight and because of the way your brain will eventually block out the static, your brain will be all, "OHMYGOD, I'M GETTING NOTHING FROM THE EARS OR THE EYES." and in order to not break down, your brain will proceed to make shit up.

    Couple that with one of those primitive functions (think Stephen King's Cell) in the brain, and you're good to go.
     
  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah that's good. I actually have a work that utilizes exactly that idea.

    By auto pilot mode I thought he meant the character acts normally, which would require two consciousnesses. Also, using my explanation the fantasy world would be real.

    Now excuse me while I get a ping pong ball.
     
  24. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Well I was going to have his body kind of sleepwalk in a zombie like state for example the first time he uses is at school in the morning. When he comes out school is over and a friend who was trying to get his attention says something like, "yo man youve been actin weird all day,
    sorta quiet. Are you feelin well?"

    Whoch, when you sleep walk irl, just bc your mind has entered the subconcious does not mean other parts of your body cannot become concious.
     
  25. polorules
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    polorules New Member

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    Okay, I'll keep that in mind. :D

    Modern fantasy? But when does modern fantasy cross over into science fiction? For example, I see Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man as more fantasy than science fiction.
     

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