1. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    Fantasy lacks originality these days

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Bright Shadow, Jan 26, 2014.

    Yes, fantasy, and a lot of it, gets published. But it really isn't "fantasy" anymore, at least not most of it. The root word of "fantasy" is "fantastic." And when was the last time a fantasy novel came out that actually was "fantastic"? "Pseudo-fantastic stock fiction" would be a more accurate way to describe most of today's fantasy.

    I'm sorry, but the 10,000,000,000th novel about vampires, fairies living in the city, wizards and mages in the streets is no longer "fantastic." Even more so is the awful high fantasy. I mean really, how "fantastic" is it to have a story with yet another white guy with a well trimmed beard and a sword sitting on his horse while giving long winded speeches about freedom and the kingdom?

    I would challenge anyone writing fantasy to try this and see what ideas they come up with: write a fantasy novel, but it can't be set in either the modern age or a medieval setting. It also cannot include wizards with spell books, vampires, fairies, werewolves, dragons or demons.

    The above criteria would mean 90% of all fantasy novels published recently wouldn't make the cut. A few would, and they are amazing examples of what fantasy should look like: fresh, new and exciting.

    For example: "Incarceron" by Katherine Fisher. Hard to get into at first but man, it was so fresh and so new. Or "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.

    But the worst offender is urban fantasy. That crap is so cliched, why do they even bother making more of it? Granted, I like the Dresden Files, but that's mostly because I started reading it when it first came out and seemed fresh and new. Now?...

    You know what the most original urban fantasy story I've ever seen was? "Highlander." No vampires, no wizards, just a COMPLETELY NEW kind of supernatural being (the immortals) with new rules (can't kill on holy ground, can't die unless you take their head etc) Why can't more urban fantasy be like that instead of relying on the old standbys of wizards and werewolves?

    For a genre that is supposed to be all about imagination, fantasy sure is lacking in that department recently.
     
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  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Look a bit further into things. There's a lot more diversity than you seem to have experienced. If you're just looking at what is currently most mainstream and popular, that's what you're going to find.
     
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  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I feel that a lot of romance novels are cliche and repetitive so I just avoid reading the genre rather than getting worked up about it. As was stated in several other threads, all genres have their cliches.

    Where did you find this information? A quick google search of the origin of the word fantasy brings up a different result.

    If you're so keen for an improvement to the fantasy genre why not write a non cliched fantasy book yourself?

    You can't really blame people for writing what they want (even if it is terribly cliched) or writing what sells.
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    2 EZ 4 wurds.
     
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  5. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    The problem is that when you pull that much of the genre out, you're not left with much. You say no wizards and no magic, or is it just no spell books? So no magic. None of the fantasy races that most people have heard of. No using the time period where fantasy makes the most sense. You're pretty much describing steampunk. It's fantasy, minus the fantasy tropes.

    My current project is a novel, first in a series, that blends fantasy and steampunk with more of a mind to the economics of it all. Unfortunately I fail your challenge because the main character is a mage, even if he's not your average Gandalf.
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Romance stories without men and women, Cowboy stories without revolvers, "injuns", and not set in the American West. Or how about a war story without any mention of soldiers and guns/aircraft/tanks?

    It is the story and the characters that provide the variety and sense of "newness". Fantasy implies that the settings and characters never existed in real life, not that the tale is "fantastic" in the sense of being wonderful or awe inspiring.
     
  7. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    A good fantasy equals things done right. A bad fantasy is what you cry about, filled with cliche done badly.

    What is fantasy if not dragons and magic? Anyway...it's like complaining that action got guns or explosions. It can be good and it can be bad, it's all about how the author / movie / whatever does it.
     
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  8. Cailinfios
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    Cailinfios Member

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    I agree that fantasy is gettong cliched
    I disagree as to the "remove drgaons, magic, etc" argument
    As a lot of people have said before, would it be fantasy without that? Not really.
    Try Brandon Sanderson's books. Average fantasy? Not at all! Still a really aweosme fantasy? Definitely!
     
  9. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I completely agree. Fantasy has gone main stream. It's boring and repetitive. New writers are falling onto the band-wagon and playing it save. Where are all the real writers?
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    You'll also find, as I have, in most genres the disproportionate amount of output is mediocre rubbish. You need to really search to find the good stuff. But fantasy as a genre hasn't had that many titles that have been considered worthy of serious academic study.
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Mind you, I LOVE Joe Abercrombie. He's taken fantasy cliches and turned them on their heads—which not only makes his writing quite humorous, but also very interesting. I own everything he's written, and can't wait for the new one to come out. It's fantasy that doesn't really take itself as seriously as some.

    And of course we've got the matchless Terry Pratchett...

    I also thought His Dark Materials was pretty good, non-cliched fantasy as well.
     
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  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, of course it irks from time to time, but also respect CW as the genre of self-expression.

    Sometimes it does drive me to dribble from the lip: all the magic spells and bodice-rippers about, oh and Steampunk, euch, but looking around the web I'm beginning to realise the absolute breadth of styles out there...and that dragon-bitching is in itself now becoming quite tired.

    Oh, and then there is poetry...
     
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  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I must agree here. And I also think you're tilting at the wrong windmill, @Bright Shadow. Mainstream, popular YA fantasy tends to be pretty thin and surface. I think that's what's making you bored with it. There's little to no scaffolding of themes and deeper ideas to fill it out, nothing to make you think, so all you get are the props and costumes and props and costumes, no matter the genre, get stale very quickly when the story is meaningless.
     
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  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think a lot of fantasy writers are under Tolkien's influence, which is why you have the same types of works being written and published. Also, this type of fantasy sells very well. While I don't think removing some of the traditional elements of fantasy would do the trick, I do think fantasy writers need to re-imagine some of these elements.
     
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  15. CharlestsWhitfield
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  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. I've had this discussion with people before, and I find that they tend to go to the same book store, look at the same shelves, and come away with the same book type of book time and again, and then complain about how it is all the same.

    I can come up with a bunch of authors who write books that differ from that mold right off the top of my head. Peake (of course), Storm Constantine, Tanith Lee, K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, Steven Pirie, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Robert Holdstock, C.S. Friedman, Cherie Priest, James Blaylock, China Mieville, Elizabeth Hand, Susanna Clarke, Graham Joyce, Glen Cook, Steven Erikson, Charles de Lint, Sherri Tepper, Manuel Mujica Lainez, Steven Brust, Roger Zelazny, K.J. Parker...

    OK, that's just what comes to mind (and with a quick glance over the shoulder at my bookcase near the end :) ).
     
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  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oo-hoo-hoo! Sheri S. Tepper's Grass is profoundly, almost lasciviously, delicious. One of my all time fave novels. She uses the term gustatory epiphany in that novel when Marjorie is contemplating the nature of the 'foxen' after having made what can arguable be called love with one of them. It's one of those ideas that has lodged in my mind and makes me think of things in very different ways to what is expected of me from time to time.
     
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  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Great book, which is on the shelf behind me, as is The Gate to Women's Country. I think you and I like a lot of the same sorts of authors.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, and I forgot to point out Kage Baker. How in the heck I missed her as an author to mention, I don't know!
     
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  20. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with fantasy these days is the themes. I'm in the middle of revising a fantasy novel and I've made damn sure it's not about good vs. evil, doesn't feature a bunch of different races working together and isn't about fucking politics and regional strife. It's the THEMES that are getting boring, imho.

    (For those who are going to ask, "So what IS your book about?"... Thematically it's a story about personal responsibility, the role of entropy and death in large systems (like civilizations) and how the way we treat each other has more impact on the world than what we do with our lives career-wise)
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, totally agree. So much to love in her writing. She was a total original.
     
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  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Indeed. I was greatly saddened when she passed.
     
  23. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    Thing is, once upon a time ALL fantasy races were unfamiliar. Before Tolkien, how many people have ever heard of an Elvish?

    And you can have great fantasy with different ideas. For example, ever read "Dream Quest of unknown Kadath"? Fresh imagery, fresh ideas...and it was written like 80 years ago.
     
  24. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    Exactly. So much fantasy is just "Tolkien fanfiction". Why elves and dwarfs in medieval times? Why not Menehune (Hawaiian dwarfs) and Djinn (arabian creatures made of smoke) in the turn of the last century? Why not something new and exciting instead of the same old cliches?
     
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  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's a good one, but as I said there is a lot of diverse fantasy out there.
     

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